Sat, May 4, 8:46am by Kevin Pitstock
Despite the growing call by public policy groups for spending limitations on online pokies, statistics show Australians are using poker machines less in the past year. Not only do the numbers show a downward trend in 2013, but the numbers in 2011 and 2012 show a similar trend, Roy Morgan Research shows.
The city of Geelong estimates its citizens spend $1 million less per month on gambling than it did in previous years. About 60% of the revenues come from online pokies, so residents of the city spend about $600,000 per month on the virtual poker machines. This includes an overall 10% decrease in use of the prime casino machines–a trend which held over a four month interval.
A Roy Morgan Research study showed the numbers dropping from 2011 to 2012, from $11.2 billion down to $10.2 billion from one year to the next. This coincides with figures showing the number of Australians punting on electronic poker machines is down, from roughly 4.6 million in 2011 to 4.4 million in 2012.
Anti-gambling activist groups suggest the trend is tied to a flagging economy, but past studies show that gambling tends to increase during times of recession. The dip of 200,000 online gamblers is more likely the result of greater awareness about the dangers of problem gambling. If so, the campaign to rid the country of gambling addiction is showing some signs of working, even without the limiting regulations.
The numbers over the past decade are an even better indication the trend isn’t a result of economic factors. In late 2002, as many as 5.5 million Australians were gamblers. The numbers over a full decade show a decline of nearly 25%. Many punters tried video poker machines and didn’t like them. Others battled addiction and won. In any case, the numbers show an overall decline, while those who would curtail gambling habits paint a picture of a growing problem.
Some of the gaming information indicates a move from traditional types of gambling to newer forms. Online poker and online casinos are more popular, while traditional venues like pubs and clubs are less popular. Some of the slump in the smaller land-based establishments can be linked to the removal of ATM machines in these locations.
Often, players stay at home and gamble in the privacy of their own home, where it’s easy to access their funds. The exodus from the brick-and-mortar pokie locations may be driving an uptick in problem gambling–shifting the activity from offline to online play.
Roy Morgan Research was founded in 1941 to help Australian organizations gain their competitive edge through market research. The company is respected for their long service in helping Australian businesses, for which it compiles quality commercial information. Besides helping with corporate image and media measurement, Roy Morgan Research conducts public opinion surveys over the telephone, on the Internet, and in self-administered questionnaires and personal interviews. The company has offices in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Indonesia, the United States, and four Australian states.
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