Tuesday February 4,2014 : AUSSIES REALLY ARE THE WORLD'S BIGGEST GAMBLERS
Average gambling losses of A$ 1114 per resident last year, a new study finds.
Australia's national news agency AAP reports that Aussies really are the world's biggest gamblers, according to a new study published in The Economist, which puts Australian gambling losses at about $1144 per resident.
Anti-gambling campaignrs like Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce chairman Tim Costello have been quick to exploit the finding, telling the AAP that the proliferation of gambling Downunder heightened a national desire to have a punt.
"Gambling is just like eucalyptus oil – it's natural," Costello said. "But in Australia we've allowed gambling to proliferate more than anyone else in the world."
Monash University gambling researcher Dr Charles Livingstone claimed Australia has the highest concentration of poker machines in the world… and the largest numbers are in financially challenged areas that can ill-afford the wastage.
The new study is the work of British consultancy firm H2 Gambling Capital, which found that the average Aussie lost about $520 on non-casino poker machines last year.
The report notes that although Australia had the biggest gambling losses per head among residents, American punters had the biggest monetary loss of any nation at $136 billion (US$147.3 billion), compared with the Australian figure of $21.5 billion.
However, H2 predicts that China will overtake the American figure by 2020.
Independent MP Nick Xenophon described the report as a wake-up call for Australian lawmakers, underlining the potential for problem gambling.
Xenophon is pushing for maximum $1 bets on poker machines with hourly losses capped at $120, in line with recommendations of the 2010 Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform.
Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore, said there were significant political, economic and cultural obstacles to promoting responsible gambling.
"State and territory governments in Australia derive an average 10 percent or more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling," he said.
Following Australia on the H2 biggest gamblers list are Singapore and Finland.
The H2 report also references the gambling habits of neighbouring New Zealand, which it says has the fourth-biggest gamblers per capita.
According to H2, New Zealanders are losing $2.2 billion a year, or about NZ$620 per person, mostly spent on non-casino gaming machines, followed by casinos and then lotteries.
However, statistics show New Zealand's high ranking does not necessarily correlate to problem gambling.
According to research by BERL, New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of problem gambling in the world.