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Gambling and problem gambling in Victoria

Howe, P, Vargas-Saenz, A, Hulbert, C, Boldero, J

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
July 2018

Summary

This report explored the following three questions:

  1. What was the prevalence of gambling and problem gambling in Victoria in 2016 and how does this compare to 2010?
  2. Which factors predict an individual’s gambling frequency for each of 12 gambling activities and which factors predict an individual’s Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) score?
  3. How can gambling-related harm be reduced?

Methods

To answer the research questions, the project team took a three-stage approach incorporating:

  1. A review of the gambling research literature to determine what is known about the prevalence of gambling and problem gambling in Victoria, including factors likely to predict an individual’s gambling frequency and PGSI score.
  2. A pilot study of 53 first-year university students to assess whether the survey was an appropriate length and to uncover any difficulties or potential misunderstandings with the survey items.
  3. A quantitative online study of 3,361 Victorians aged 18+.  Participants were recruited by a survey company, The Online Research Unit (ORU). ORU guaranteed that the participants were representative of the general population in terms of distribution of age, gender and location.  

The research team compared the survey results for those aged 18–24 with findings from a previous survey of undergraduate students in 2010.

Key findings

Question 1: What was the prevalence of gambling and problem gambling in Victoria in 2016 and how does this compare to 2010?

  • The study found higher rates of gambling participation than found in previous studies. Approximately 9/10 adults reported gambling on at least one activity. This is higher than estimates found in other studies and is most likely due to the use of an online sample.

Question 2: Which factors predict an individual’s gambling frequency for each of 12 gambling activities and which factors predict an individual’s Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) score?

Predictors of self-reported gambling frequency included:

  • an individual’s perception of family and peers’ gambling participation
  • self-reported approval of gambling
  • perceived approval of gambling by peers and people in general
  • receiving gambling promotional materials
  • frequency of discussing gambling offline
  • overestimating chances of winning
  • age
  • gender
  • PGSI score. 

Question 3: How can gambling-related harm be reduced?

The researchers explored 33 variables that the literature suggested would predict PGSI. All variables accounted for 56 per cent of the variance in PGSI score. However, just five accounted for 91 per cent of the variance. These were:

  • positive urgency – the tendency to act rashly when in a positive mood
  • playing poker machines at pubs, hotels, or sports clubs
  • betting on gaming tables at casinos
  • gambling on the internet
  • overestimating chances of winning.

This research conducted as part of Round 7 of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation's Grants for Gambling Research Program.

Citation

Howe, P, Vargas-Saenz, A, Hulbert, C, Boldero, J 2018, Gambling and problem gambling in Victoria, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.

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