This research aimed to measure how changes in the number of electronic gaming machine venues in a local area impacted serious financial harms, as measured by the number of personal insolvencies. The findings are the first quantitative evidence of extreme financial harms associated with the availability of gaming venues in Australia.
Unmanageable amounts of debt are one of the many harmful outcomes of problem gambling. The inability to manage debt or access funds harms the individual and their family, and can trigger second-order harms including distress, suicidal ideation, relationship breakdown and criminal activities.
Previous research had suggested that the geographic accessibility of electronic gaming machines is correlated with increased gambling expenditure, and its resultant harms. This previous research had only provided limited evidence on the impact of the availability of gaming venues in a geographic area, and extreme financial harms.
This research combined administrative data on the number of personal insolvencies with data on the number of gambling venues within 225 local areas in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria between 2011-2018.
Over this time, Australia had seen an overall gradual decline in gaming venues, however against that backdrop there were fluctuations in the number of venues within local areas.
The results suggest that for the closure of each venue, personal insolvencies decreased by around two. More specifically, a 10 per cent decrease in the number of gaming venues within an area decreased insolvencies by 2.37.
The research concludes that policies that limit or reduce the number of gaming venues within a local area could help reduce harms associated with problem gambling.
Badji, S, Black, N, Johnston, D 2021, Personal insolvencies and the availability of neighbourhood gaming venues, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.