Offshore gamblers more likely to be problem gamblers: study

More than 25 percent of Australian online gamblers are users of illegal offshore gambling sites, and are more likely to be problem gamblers, according to a recent study.

The study aimed at looking at online gamblers in Australia using offshore sites compared to those using only domestically licensed sites – looking at factors influencing site selection, awareness of gambling legislation and experience of gambling-related problems.

The specific objectives were to understand (1) the extent to which consumers are using offshore gambling sites, (2) which consumers are most likely to engage with offshore gambling sites, (3) factors influencing the use of offshore sites and (4) the extent to which use of offshore gambling sites is related to gambling problems.

The journal article, written by Sally Gainsbury of the University of Sydney, was also contributed to by Alex MT Russell and Nerilee Hing from the Central Queensland University, and Alex Blaszczynski from the University of Sydney.

“Understanding consumers’ use of offshore sites may enable design of strategies and policies to reduce demand and access, and provide greater levels of consumer protection,” it wrote.

The study found that out of the 3199 respondents who gambled online, 74.2 percent were domestic gamblers, while the remaining 25.8 percent were offshore gamblers.

Offshore gamblers were significantly more likely to be male; younger; never married; living in a

household with one parent; less educated; more likely to be unemployed or a full-time student; more likely to speak a language other than English at home; and significantly more likely to have only a mobile phone than domestic gamblers.

Offshore gamblers were also significantly more likely to engage in every form of gambling than their domestic gambling counterparts, and were reported to hold significantly longer gambling sessions when betting on sports.

Offshore gamblers were also significantly more likely to be moderate risk or problem gamblers, said the study.

The study concluded that there would likely be a demand for prohibited forms of online gambling as new generations of gamblers prefer to gamble online.

While legalization would likely contribute to a greater increase in participation, there is evidence that gambling through domestically licensed sites is associated with lower levels of gambling-related problems, wrote the study.

“Regulators need to act to reduce the availability of and use of offshore gambling sites. This is important to minimize unfair competition for licensed providers, to retain taxation from gambling, to enforce regulation and to protect consumers.”

“Gamblers using offshore sites represent a somewhat distinct market of consumers, which is important to understand to allow consumer education campaigns to target appropriate sub-populations. Understanding the preferences and needs of this population can drive policies and practices accompanying any legislative changes, it concluded.