July 12,2012 : POKIES A BIGGER PROBLEM FOR AUSSIE GAMBLERS THAN THE INTERNET
New Flinders study shows that most problem gambling stems from pokies
Australian politicians who repeatedly blame online gambling for increases in the incidence of problem gambling may be given pause for thought by a new Flinders University School of Medicine study released this week.
The study show that four out of five problem gamblers in South Australia are addicted to pokies – despite the growth of online and sports betting. And less than 1 per cent said they had a problem gambling online, whilst 83.9 percent admitted to poker machine addiction.
Flinders University Professor of Psychiatry Malcolm Battersby told the publication Adelaide Now that experts did not know why a boom in sports betting and online gambling had not translated to an increase in problem gamblers.
Professor Battersby said the latest figures showed that the Flinders University service treated around 800 problem gamblers in 2010-11.
They reported problems with TAB gambling (10.8 percent), casino games (3 percent), Keno (1.1 percent) and lotteries, private gambling and card games (less than 1 percent).
"People have said for a long, long time: `Look out, here comes a tsunami of people with problem gambling' because of the new forms of gambling and we have not seen that yet," he said.
"One researcher has evidence that while problem gambling in the newer forms of gambling is increasing, we are yet to see the increase in people seeking help.
"We don't know why, is the short answer. But like all young people, perhaps those who are taking up the new forms of gambling just don't seek help.
"Around 20,000 people have a gambling problem in total but only 2000-3000 come for help."
However, Professor Battersby said researchers still expected new forms of gambling would create problems.
"The average time it takes for people to come to our service for pokie gambling is five to seven years, usually when they hit rock bottom or have some major crisis in their life," he said.