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Online gaming participation increased ‘dramatically’ in Victoria – Study

The study published this year, was conducted by researchers from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and Christine Stone Consulting.

The purpose of this study was to compare changes in gambling and problem gambling in the Victorian adult population between 2008 and 2018 by investigating
individual gambling activities and exploring their relationship with the Victorian gambling

The study sheds some light on evolving patterns of participation and problem gambling prevalence, with findings underscoring the crucial role of monitoring and surveillance in understanding societal shifts and mitigating potential harm.

‘In Victoria, gambling is not one industry but multiple which intersect with various sectors
of the population via different modes. Victorian legislation governs the land-based venues
which serve a smorgasbord of gambling activities embedded within local neighbourhoods
including major regional areas,’ the research states.

‘Hotels and licensed clubs own and operate EGMs in dedicated areas of their premises, and offer Keno, race and sports betting, in addition to raffles, bingo and spinning wheels. Many have sports bars with racing and live sports on large screens and with Tabcorp face-to-face and electronic betting facilities’

According to the study results, population gambling participation and intensity, frequency and multiple activities, continued to decrease from 2008 to 2018.

Participation decreased slightly from 73 to 69 percent, with larger reductions occurring in regular gambling: monthly from 41 to 29 percent and weekly from 23 to 14 percent, while gambling on multiple activities (3 or more) also decreased from 27 to 22 percent.

‘Males and adults 45 years and older continued to gamble more intensely than females
and younger age groups. Gambling participation did not differ between genders, and for
both decreased slightly,’ the research shows.

In 2018, when the study ended, two activities persisted as the most popular: Lotto (44 percent) and raffle tickets (37 percent), followed by racing (20 percent), EGMs (14 percent) and scratch tickets (11 percent) and finally table games, sports, informal private betting, Keno, competitions and bingo.

However, online gambling has increased dramatically from 4.8 to 19 percent with a
corresponding decrease in gambling in land-based venues only (LBVO), from 69 to 49 percent.

Online gambling was highest for Lotto (10 percent), races (6.8 percent) and sports (4.4 percent); a dramatic increase from 1.1 percent and less by 2018.

In 2018 a higher proportion of males, 22 percent, than females, 16 percent, gambled online, whereas a higher proportion of females, 51 percent, than males, 47 percent gambled in LBVO.

Problem gambling risks

Notably, participation in low-risk gambling products has declined, while an uptick has been observed in high-risk activities. Despite a decrease in Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) gambling, it continues to pose the highest risk.

Orion Art EGMs, Online gaming, Victoria

‘EGMs continue to pose the greatest risk for Victorians, males and young adults
continue having a higher problem gambling prevalence rate and preferring both online
gambling and high-risk activities,’ the study shows.

‘Gambling access and exposure proliferated enabling single site multiple gambling opportunities on high-risk activities. Young adults represented a new vulnerable group as they reach the legal gambling age.’

According to the researchers, the most effective interventions, based on major falls in real expenditure on EGMs, the highest risk activity were the smoking bans, removal of ATMs from venues and decreases in bet size.

Male gamblers and young adults emerging into the legal gambling age are identified as particularly vulnerable groups. However, racing stands out with an aging cohort of participants, suggesting a nuanced landscape of risk across different forms of gambling.

The research highlights the urgent need for proactive interventions to address gambling harm at both individual and population levels. Regulatory measures and structural modifications to gambling products are touted as effective strategies to curb harmful behaviors.

‘As Victoria navigates these findings, early intervention strategies are emphasized to safeguard against the detrimental effects of gambling on both public health and individual well-being,’ the report urges.

Nelson Moura
Nelson Moura
Editor and reporter with 10 years of experience in Greater China, namely Taiwan and Macau, in printed and online media, with a focus on finance, gaming, politics, crime, business and social issues.