Young men biggest problem gamblers at Aussie casinos

Monday, 21 March 2016

Australia's casinos are much better resourced than pubs and clubs to implement responsible gambling practices, but there's little evidence to suggest how effective those practices really are.

That's one of the many findings of Australia's first major report into responsible gambling and casinos, conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide.

In a report commissioned by Gambling Research Australia and now published online, researchers from the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies (SACES) at the University of Adelaide have provided the nation's first detailed snapshot of the Australian casino gambling environment, including information from casino operators and patrons, and an assessment of various responsible gambling practices.

"Despite their unique place within the Australian gambling industry, until now there has been relatively little analysis of the nation's 13 casinos, their practices and the gamblers who frequent their premises," says the University’s Associate Professor Michael O’Neil, Executive Director of SACES and lead author of the report.

The report considers the evolution of the casino industry, recent international developments and examines ‘just who are casino gamblers’? The report also provides an extensive summary of the gambling industry in each state and territory.

"The extent that a casino contributes to state economic development goals fundamentally depends on its performance in attracting international 'high rollers'," Associate Professor O'Neil says.

The report found that:
• Casino gamblers are three times more likely to be problem gamblers;
• Each table game at an Australian casino earns an average revenue of $900,000 per year;
• Each electronic gaming machine at an Australian casino earns an average revenue of more than $128,000 per year (compared with $59,400 at pubs and clubs);
• Casino table games attract players who are more likely to be male, younger (under the age of 35), more highly educated and with higher incomes;
• These young males are more likely than any other gamblers to be at higher risk of problem gambling;
• Electronic gaming machines at casinos are more likely to be used by older females.

"Because of their size, we found that casinos are much better placed than local pubs and clubs to promote responsible gambling practices with their patrons and among staff," Associate Professor O'Neil says.

"Many casinos are required by law to restrict gambling activities in some way, such as offering self-exclusion programs, having a specified level of staff training and intervention, offering voluntary pre-commitment cards, enforcing betting limits, restricting access to credit, limits on withdrawals from ATMs, and so forth.

"A number of casinos have also initiated their own socially responsible practices, such as running information centres for patrons about counselling services available to them.

"Unfortunately, our research uncovered that there is little to no evidence available to indicate how effective these provisions are in casinos. While a large amount of effort is put into these practices by many casinos, we just don't know if it's having any effect, either in preventing people from becoming problem gamblers, or helping to stop and potentially reverse such problem behaviour."

This report builds on previous work into the gambling industry by SACES.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Michael O'Neil
Executive Director, SA Centre for Economic Studies
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 4545
Mobile: +61 (0)408 812 032

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762