Can you imagine how much money $24 billion is? It’s a lot, we can say, and there are not many people on earth that can proudly say they have that amount. Well, by recent research, that is the amount of money Australians spend on gambling in just one year. Moreover, it seems that their gambling losses are growing by 40% each year, and that is twice as high as the U.S. Actually, this places them in the first place on the list when it comes to gambling expenses.
You can see how this is a shock to all Australians and why this is breaking news all over the continent. They do gamble a lot, but nobody was aware of the amount of money they spend. As soon as the research results became familiar to the public, explanations and excuses started. There is one group of people who believe that you could shift guilt on their cultural preference since love for gambling has been a part of their national identity. Others believe that everything began during the 1990s when the expansion happened, and that is most likely the truth.
It is very well known that during the 1990s, governments had less and less money since they repealed all the taxes. At first, they were fine with that, but soon, they had to do something. In order to resolve this problem, they turned to poker machines and placed them all over the states. Not many people know that the government placed pokies into pubs and clubs just to attract people, and casinos didn’t have an exclusive right on them. And as the new research that was done this month shows, they drew them very well. That means the government is partly guilty of developing addiction among Australia’s citizens.
By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 200,000 pokies across the states. At that moment, that was approximately 20% of all the machines in the world. When you look at it like that, it is no wonder that the biggest issue in Australia is gambling addiction.
The interesting part of this research is that pokie machines are not the ones to blame for people’s addictions. As sports betting was growing, Australians started losing billions of dollars yearly on that. Since the end of the year will come soon, public gambling records show that $12 billion were lost on pokie machines, while the rest was spent on sports bets. Aside from that, people here also adore the lottery. Therefore, guessing numbers became the number-one hobby and entertainment of Australians.
Actually, this research also shows that both men and women spend an equal amount of money on gambling. Earlier, this was an entertainment reserved only for men, but nowadays, it looks like women enjoy wagering on a daily basis too.
As we said, this is shocking news. So it’s no wonder that you can now see this on every television program. When they announced the results of the research, citizens asked for the government to do something about it. And it looks like the only thing that can be done is what all other countries did — limiting gaming machines. We still don’t have an answer from the government whether they will do that or not, but we will know what steps they will take in order to solve this problem in the next few months.
The spokesman also said that the government would not only look for those who already have a problem. They want to focus on the group of people who are at risk of becoming compulsive gamblers. Those are the people who are always spending money on bets. They still haven’t gotten that far to be considered addicts. The government believes that by helping them, they will lower the percentage of problem gamblers within a few years from now.
The gambling industry will also be involved in solving this problem. As a matter of fact, they are the only ones who can provide accurate statistics through their reward programs. They are aware of the importance of collaboration. Regulatory bodies won’t hesitate to involve other third parties like the Australian Gambling Council and many more.
In the latest press release, the government promised to do everything there is to be done in order to solve this problem as soon as possible since with it’s constant raise, it can lead people to bankruptcy.
How Can Australia Deal With This Problem?
First and foremost, the government can look up to other countries that have the same problem. For example, Singapore took action that showed significant improvement within just a few months. They increased the entry fee to casinos, and they did it drastically. The U.K. parliament also did some productive work when it comes to the gambling problem, and they did lower the amount of money people lose on from wagering.
Actually, Tasmania already did something that could be helpful. They announced tax increases by up to 15%. This decision will be effective from the first day of 2020. The state will have two benefits from this — one is an increase in government funding that can be used for other improvements, and the other is solving the gambling problem. By their calculations, the state will earn more than three million dollars, and the percentage of gamblers will drop.
That being said, there are a lot of things they can do, and if the Australian government is honest when they say that they will combat this issue, we can say that a lot of work is waiting for them. They just need to find the best solution that will benefit everyone — the gambling industry, government, and most importantly, citizens.