Tasmanian Study Shows That Pokie Gambling Threat Is Lower Than Claimed By Anti-Gambling Bodies

Survey of 5,000 adults finds that Tasmanians are gambling less, and turning more to the online environment

The Tasmanian government has released the results of an independent study of 5,000 adult residents which it says gives the lie to anti-gambling activist and political claims that gambling on pokies has become a major problem in the province.

The study was carried out by Acil Allen consulting, Deakin University, Central Queensland University and the Social Research Centre.

The three-yearly Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) showed poker machine use was declining and problem gamblers were a “tiny proportion of the Tasmanian population,” Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein said in a statement Tuesday.

The report, commissioned by the Tasmanian Department of Treasury and Finance, found that Tasmanians are actually gambling less, and are turning more to online gambling than pokie machines.

More than one-in-ten adults had punted online, most commonly on a mobile device, the report said.

Treasurer Gutwein said it “puts into context the claims of those who want to take away the free choice of Tasmanians to gamble if they choose to do so.”

The SEIS snapshot of the industry and its effects was undertaken between 13 June to 7 August, 2017 and shows that gambling participation fell from 61.2 percent to 58.5 percent in 2017; real expenditure in electronic gaming machines fell 27 percent in the past decade; online gambling rose; and, of the adult population, 0.6 percent were susceptible to problem gambling.

The findings include:

* The prevalence of regular gambling was significantly higher among Australian-born males in paid full-time employment who did not complete Year 12, who earn between $80,000 and $119,999 a year

* A significant decline in the proportion of Tasmanian adults who participated in any gambling activity

* More than one-in-10 Tasmanian adults had participated in some form of online gambling, most commonly on a mobile device

* Gambling on electronic gaming machines (EGMs) has trended steadily downwards

* The average annual spend in 2017 among gamblers in Tasmania was $950 (as compared to $1,054 in 2011 and $927 in 2013)

“Real expenditure on EGMs in Tasmania has continued to trend steadily downwards, with a decline of 27 percent over the past decade,” Gutwein said. “In contrast, participation in online gambling has increased by more than 54 percent.

In 2013, the number of Tasmanian adults participating in online gambling was estimated to be 7 per ent, but this has now increased to 10.8 percent.”

Treasurer Gutwein’s comment that gambling opponents would probably cherry pick and use selective quotes from the report proved correct almost immediately as political opponents and anti-pokie gambling groups attacked the government statement as “spin” regarding the study.