Monday May 20,2013 : SPORTS BETTING GROWING ‘EXPLOSIVELY' IN AUSTRALIA
 
Fewer punters, but sports bets have increased
 
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported over the weekend on new research which has discovered that fewer Aussies are gambling, but that betting on sports events has grown by 15 percent.
 
Researchers at the Southern Cross University in New South Wales, led by well-known problem gambling specialist Dr. Sally Gainsbury, studied gambling preferences going back to 1999, reporting that 64 percent of adults gambled in the past year, compared with a much higher figure of 82 percent back in 1999.
 
Gainsbury says sports betting has doubled in popularity, with the take growing by 15 percent in just five years.
 
And she says that online gambling is attracting new customers.
 
"52 percent of people who gamble online actually prefer that mode, compared to land-based gamblers," she said.
 
"It's that accessibility and convenience that's really driving them to use the mode. And some people actually prefer it and don't like the land-based venues, so we're seeing a new subset of Australians who are engaging in this gambling activity."
 
Gainsbury told ABC that online gamblers are predominantly male.
 
"They tend to be younger, they're from a higher education, so they're more likely to have university degrees, they certainly have access to the internet at their work or at their home, and they might come from a higher socio-economic bracket," she said, describing a typical profile found elsewhere in the world.
 
The rise in online sports betting is partly due to advertising, Gainsbury reports, claiming there is evidence that suggests there may be higher problem gambling rates among people who gamble online.
 
The claim has been made before but not substantiated, and a large sample research project undertaken by Harvard Medical School several years ago produced the opposite conclusion.
 
Gainsbury has also addressed the relatively new phenomenon of social gaming through social networking websites, and she expresses concern that this trend is ‘normalising' gambling as an activity and could impact young visitors to social networking sites.
 
Professor Jeffrey Derevensky from Canada's McGill University, another problem gambling specialist, agrees.
 
He says online games like pokies, roulette and poker are becoming increasingly popular among adolescents.
 
"We see it everywhere. We see pokie parlours, we go to clubs, we can see it in purchasing a lottery ticket," he said. "Because it's so easily accessible, parents and educators are not educating children about the warning signs of when something that starts off as fun can become problematic."
 
Derevensky claims that international researchers are concerned about internet simulated gaming sites being purchased by gambling companies.
 
"Big companies like Caesars International or IGT are buying these companies, not just because it's a fun type of game that children can learn, but also so that they can migrate over," he said.