Australians Are Officially the Biggest Gamblers in the World

Welcome to Australia sign in style of famous fabulous Las Vegas sign, isolated on white background

Australians bet more than any other nationality, according to a report conducted by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. It showed that Aussies wagered about $210bn (£162bn) in 2016 and 2017.

That was an increase of 0.7% over the previous period studied. According to the report, Australia not only has the biggest gamblers in the world, but its inhabitants are far ahead of second-place Singapore in gambling losses. Australians lost almost $24bn (£18.5bn), which works out to $1,251 (£964) for everyone in the country over 18 years of age.

What Do These Figures Tell Us?

The largest increases in the latest period came through racing and sports betting. Sports betting rose by 15% and racing by 7% in the amount of cash lost. Those are the most rapidly growing sectors of Australian gambling.

Casinos and pokies still lead the way in the amounts of money bet and lost. About $168bn (£129.3bn) went to lotteries, casinos, and electronic games and losses totaled about $17bn (£13.1bn). That amounts to $894 (£688) lost for every person over the age of 18 in the country.

Figures like this are integral to scoping how the Australian gambling sector is performing year on year. The office has conducted similar studies for the past 34 years.

Australia has a large number of problem gamblers who were responsible for a major portion of these losses.

Why These Increases?

The growth of mobile gaming has played a significant role in the increasing amounts bet. It is so easy to place a bet through a mobile device that it becomes a normal part of everyday life.

You can download a betting app in a matter of seconds and add funds with a few clicks. When people start losing money they can’t afford to lose, they often borrow to keep getting their fixes and chasing their losses. This usually leads them into a massive hole that is hard to get out of.

Gambling advertisers also play a role. They run widespread campaigns targeting young people and glamorizing gambling. They enlist the help of celebrities and major sports teams and stars to promote their offerings.

Even the large sporting organizations in Australia, such as Cricket Australia, the Australian Football League, and the National Rugby League, are sponsored by gambling organizations. There are gambling ads everywhere you look, from television infomercials to hoardings at the stadiums.

There has been a push to lower the level of advertising. A recent ban prohibits gambling ads from being shown before 9 pm during sporting events on Australian television.

Young people are constantly being exposed to these subliminal messages and normalizing gambling. Therefore, they are starting to gamble at a very early age, and their developing brains don’t see anything wrong with this high frequency of wagering.

There is no doubt that there is a gambling culture in Australia. To be so far ahead in the ranking of the biggest gamblers in the world certainly is a warning sign.

The government receives large amounts of revenue from gambling each year and gambling helps to attract tourists, boost employment, and stimulate local economies. Therefore, many wonder if there is a strong enough incentive to implement the strict measures that are needed to get a hold on the sector.

Some provinces have enacted new taxes. The province of Victoria, for example, has introduced an 8% tax on the net wagering revenue of online operators. While this is less than the 15% that was originally proposed, many online bookmakers are concerned.

This is a point of consumption tax, which targets bookmakers based on the location where the bet is placed rather than the region in which they are licensed. Therefore, these operators who were based offshore and paying little to no taxes are in for a rude awakening.

Talking about this move, Victoria Treasurer Tim Pallas said: “Essentially, you’ve got a situation applying at the moment where online gambling operators are effectively avoiding tax — they don’t pay a cent of tax when they are providing product into this state.”

He concluded: “They are not paying their fair share and have an unfair advantage against the domestically based product.”