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Gambling in Victoria

The Foundation-funded Study of gambling and health in Victoria found 70.1 per cent of Victorians gamble, most of whom (82.2 per cent) show no signs of harm from their gambling.

This means almost one in five (around 550,000) Victorians who gamble may be experiencing harm from gambling.

In addition, 2.8 per cent of people surveyed as part of the study reported experiencing harm as a result of someone else's gambling in the preceding 12 months. When applied to the Victorian adult population, this is around 122,500 people. Of course, this excludes children, who may also be affected by gambling harm.

Given the ripple effect of gambling harm, and recognising it not only affects people who gamble and those close to them, but also the broader community, the Foundation commissioned a major study into the impact of gambling harm in Victoria.

The 2016 study Assessing gambling-related harm in Victoria used a standard World Health Organization approach to measure the effect of a health condition on a person’s quality of life. The researchers collected information about gambling harm in Victoria and then used findings from our Study of gambling and health in Victoria to estimate the impact of gambling harm on the community as a whole.

The study classified gambling harm into seven broad types:

  • relationship difficulties
  • health problems
  • emotional or psychological distress
  • financial problems
  • issues with work or study
  • cultural problems
  • criminal activity.

Find out more about the types of harm from gambling.

The researchers found gambling harm in Victoria comprises:

Although harm from problem gambling is more severe at an individual level, harm from low-risk and moderate-risk gambling has a greater impact on the community because the number of people affected is much greater.

These findings reinforce that harm from gambling is not limited to people who experience problem gambling.

A 2017 study further investigated the extent of gambling harm to others. The researchers asked people affected by someone else’s gambling how many others, including children, they believed had also been affected by that person’s gambling. The report A typical problem gambler affects six others reveals more than a million people in Victoria are potentially harmed by someone else’s gambling.

‘Just as you don't need to be an alcoholic to be affected by alcohol-related harm, you don't need to be experiencing problem gambling to be harmed by gambling.’
Lead researcher, Matthew Browne

For many people, gambling harm is a common feature of their social circles. A recent social network analysis found that people who gamble in a risky way commonly have close ties with others in similar situations. This study showed that it may not only be gambling that is normalised in these groups, but also the experience of gambling harm.

In 2017, we commissioned research to assess the social cost of gambling to Victoria, including costs associated with low-risk and moderate-risk gambling. The study found the total cost of gambling to our community in 2014–2015 was $7 billion. Costs were categorised as financial, emotional and psychological, relationships and family, crime (cost to the Victorian justice system), productivity loss and work impacts, and cost to the Victorian Government. People who gamble, their families and their social networks bore 75 per cent of the total cost of gambling.

These studies highlight the importance of taking a broad approach to preventing harm from gambling, including addressing harm from low-risk and moderate-risk gambling, as well as from problem gambling. For the greatest community benefit, we must work across the spectrum of gambling harm.

Our Check your gambling quiz prompts people to consider whether they may be experiencing harm from gambling.

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