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Gambling in Victoria

How gambling in Victoria is changing over time

Research suggests fewer Victorians are gambling today than a decade ago, but many of those who are gambling are doing it more often and spending more.

The Foundation-funded Study of gambling and health in Victoria compared a 2014 survey of 13,554 randomly selected adults with a corresponding 2008 survey. It shows how gambling participation and behaviour in Victoria is changing over time.

Nearly one in three Victorian adults didn’t gamble at all in 2014. Others gambled on events and activities different from 2008, and more frequently. In particular, moderate-risk gamblers and people experiencing problem gambling gambled more frequently.

These surveys are part of major population studies we conduct every few years. The next survey is underway and findings will be published in 2019–2020.

How many Victorians are at risk of problem gambling?

In 2014, 57.6 per cent of Victorian adults were non-problem gamblers, which means they generally experienced no harm from their gambling.

Low-risk gamblers accounted for 8.9 per cent of the adult population – or around 391,200 people. They would fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) nearly four times.

Moderate-risk gamblers accounted for 2.8 per cent of the adult population – or about 122,500 people.

Around 35,600 people – or 0.81 per cent of Victorian adults – experienced problem gambling.

More than half of low-risk gamblers were women.

Men accounted for nearly three-quarters (73.3 per cent) of moderate-risk gamblers and for 61 per cent of those experiencing problem gambling.

People experiencing problem gambling were most likely to be aged between 35 and 44.

In 2014, 2.8 per cent of the adult population (around 122,500 people) reported experiencing harm in the preceding 12 months as a result of someone else's gambling. Of course, this excludes children, who may also be affected by gambling harm.

Changes over time – 2008 to 2014

Non-gamblers increased from about one in four Victorian adults in 2008 to about one in three in 2014 – an 11 per cent rise.

Non-problem gambling dropped by 10.4 per cent over the six years.

Low-risk gambling increased by 56.3 per cent, including a significant increase in women aged 35 to 44.

Percentages for problem gambling and moderate-risk gambling didn’t change significantly between 2008 and 2014.

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, 2.7 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.

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