Around 44,000 people in the ACT, or 14 per cent of the population, were impacted by their own or someone else’s gambling over the past 12 months, according to the 2019 ACT Gambling Survey.
The survey was conducted by The Australian National University’s Centre for Gambling Research and funded by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission.
The survey found 60 per cent of ACT adults participated in some form of gambling activity in the past 12 months.
Centre Director and lead author, Dr Marisa Paterson, says the report shows the complexity around gambling activity and the impacts of gambling on the Canberra community.
Typically, a loss of savings and spending money were the most common types of harm experienced by those who gamble in the ACT.
But emotional impacts were also common, with loved ones reporting arguments, a breakdown in communication, feelings of anger, lack of trust, and stress or anxiety.
“These results are not something we should walk away from and say ‘we’re ok here’,” Dr Paterson said.
“We need to seriously consider gambling and its role in our community.”
The survey shows the level of harm for young men in particular is a major concern. Men in the ACT are disproportionately engaged in gambling activity and experience harm at significantly greater rates than women.
“Men in the ACT are classified as at-risk or problem gamblers at twice the rate of women,” Dr Paterson said.
The survey also found a significant increase in ACT residents, particularly male, gambling online – with the number increasing from 8 per cent in 2014 to 21 per cent.
“Although online gambling is of particular interest and concern, the findings suggest poker machine use still predicts problem gambling more reliably than participation in any other type of gambling activity,” Dr Paterson said.
ACT Gambling and Racing Commission CEO David Snowden said it’s important to have a conversation with family and friends if you think they may be experiencing harm from gambling.
“Harms from gambling might seem small at first, but it can escalate quickly and significantly impact a person’s life. We encourage you to work together as a community and empower those affected to seek assistance” Mr Snowden said.
The ACT Gambling Survey is carried out every five years.
This year the researchers used mobile phone numbers as well as landlines to reach more participants.
“We had 10,000 participants this time, up from about 7,000 in 2014 and also interviewed in languages other than English for the first time,” Dr Paterson said.
The report is released as part of Gambling Harm Awareness Week, which runs from 21- 27 October 2019.
For more information about Gambling Harm Awareness Week, and gambling harm prevention in the ACT, visit act.gov.au/dontplayitdown.