How gambling in Victoria is changing over time
Research suggests that fewer Victorians are gambling today than a decade ago, but the occurrence of problem gambling remains consistent.
The Foundation-funded Victorian population gambling and health study 2018–2019 surveyed 10,638 randomly selected adults from September 2018 to January 2019. The findings show how gambling participation and behaviour in Victoria have changed since our first study in 2008.
The study provides information about the relationship between people’s participation in gambling, including the products they use, and their experience of gambling harm, the risk of them experiencing problem gambling, their mental health and wellbeing, and their demographic information.
Population studies have been conducted in Victoria in 2008, 2014 and 2018–19.
How many Victorians are at risk of problem gambling?
In 2018–19, 59.2 per cent of Victorian adults were non-problem gamblers.
Low-risk gamblers accounted for 6.7 per cent of the adult population – or around 329,153 people. They would fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) more than three times.
Moderate-risk gamblers accounted for 2.4 per cent of the adult population – or about 118,004 people.
Around 36,123 people – or 0.7 per cent of Victorian adults – experienced problem gambling.
Men were significantly more likely than women to be problem gamblers, moderate-risk gamblers and low-risk gamblers. Conversely, women were significantly more likely to be classified as non-problem gamblers.
People experiencing problem or moderate-risk gambling were most likely to be aged 18–24 or 55–65, while people aged 75 or above were least likely to experience problem gambling.
How many Victorians are at risk of gambling harm?
Gambling harm is any negative consequence or side effect that comes from gambling. This can range from feelings of regret, or more serious effects like bankruptcy. A person can experience gambling harm as a result of their own gambling or someone else’s. Harm leads to poorer health and wellbeing of the individual, family, community or population.
In the 2018–19 study, gambling harm was measured alongside the risk of problem gambling for the first time. It found that 70 per cent of gambling harm in Victoria is experienced by people whose gambling is not classified as problem gambling.
Gambling harm was experienced by:
- 4.3 per cent of people who gamble without problems
- 29.2 per cent of people at low-risk of problem gambling
- 59.4 per cent of people at moderate-risk of problem gambling
- 100 per cent of people who experience problem gambling.
In 2018, 4.9 per cent of the adult population reported experiencing harm in the preceding 12 months as a result of someone else's gambling. This excludes children, who may also be affected by gambling harm. This is an increase from 2014’s finding of 2.8 per cent.
Changes over time – 2014 to 2018
- Non-gamblers remained consistent from 2014 to 2018 – about one in three Victorians do not gamble.
- Non-problem gambling increased slightly to 59.2 per cent of Victorians.
- Low-risk gambling decreased slightly from 8.9 per cent in 2014, to 6.7 per cent in 2018.
- Percentages for problem and moderate-risk gambling didn’t change significantly between 2014 and 2018.
People can transition between the different levels of gambling risk over time. Someone may experience problem gambling, seek help and subsequently no longer gamble, or gamble in a way that doesn't cause harm. Someone who has given up gambling or reduced their gambling may relapse and experience harm as a result. The Foundation-funded Victorian gambling study, which looked at changes in risk in the same people from 2008 to 2012, found that after four years,
1.8 per cent of low-risk gamblers and 14 per cent of moderate-risk gamblers transitioned to problem gambling.
For more information about the prevalence of gambling across Australia, see the Australian Institute of Family Studies report Gambling activity in Australia.