Staying in the land of Oz, the New South Wales
government has reported a small but encouraging decline
in the number of problem gamblers in the territory.
The gambling study was conducted by telephone and
then included in the NSW Population Health Survey at the
request of Gaming and Racing Minister Kevin Greene, and
found 0.4 percent of the state's adult population are
problem gamblers, down from the last survey in 2006 that
showed the rate to be 0.8 percent. 2.5 percent were
low-risk gamblers and 1.2 percent were moderate-risk
The statistics position NSW lower than
the state of Victoria in the problem gambling stakes,
and on a par with South Australia and Queensland.
Greene told the Sydney Morning Herald that the
findings showed measures introduced by the NSW
government to help problem gamblers were making an
impact. Its Responsible Gambling Fund, taken from a levy
on casino profits, has poured money into front-line and
telephone counselling services.
introduced last year included further capping machine
numbers and banning credit card cash withdrawals from
ATMs in gaming venues.
"These findings are very
encouraging and we hope it's a sign that our
high-quality counselling service and strict harm
minimisation laws are making a real difference," Greene
One academic who remained unconvinced by
the study was Dr. Charles Livingstone, a senior lecturer
in Health Social Sciences at Monash University, and a
board member of International Gambling Studies, who said
that telephone surveys of problem gambling tended to
have a selection bias.
His interpretation of
gambling data collected in NSW in the past decade showed
a problem gambling rate about 2.5 percent in the adult
population, which had remained largely unchanged.
"Gambling continues to be very much out of control in
NSW," Dr Livingstone said.
The SMH also points
out that the survey also contradicts the findings of a
draft Productivity Commission report released last
October, which found that measures introduced by state
governments to limit problem gambling in the past decade
had been largely ineffective.