Tassie gambling spend on the slide 

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Future of Tasmanian gambling outlined in government policy

A discussion paper released detailing the historical trends in Tasmanian gambling reveals Apple Isle gamblers are spending less year on year.

The Advocate reports the Fifth Social and Economic Study of Gambling in Tasmania reveals that Tasmanians are spending less, and only West Australians spent less, on average.

While spending in pokies has spiked in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the discussion paper showed Tasmanian spending on the various forms of agmbling had fallen significantly, adjusted for inflation, for most of the period after peaking in 2008-09.

Betting on racing has taken a particularly big hit, while spending on non-casino pokies and at casinos has also fallen.

The paper said gamblers lost a total of $304.1 million in 2017-18, based on the most recent data available. 

“The level of gambling expenditure, measures in real terms, has fallen steadily since it peaked in 2008-09,” the paper said.

“In the five years to 2017-18, total spending on gambling fell by 14 per cent, whereas it fell by 22 per cent over the previous five-year period.

“By way of comparison, total Tasmanian household consumption on goods and services rose by 10 per cent over the last five years.”

The paper said Tasmanian adults lost an average $736 to gambling in 2017-18.

The national average was $1292, while Western Australia averaged $657.

The Northern Territory had the highest average, $11,940.

The paper said that could be attributed to online racing and sports betting wagering providers concentrating in the Northern Territory because of favourable taxation arrangements.

“Thus, some of the spending for the Northern Territory would capture spending by residents in other states and territories, including Tasmania,” it said.

Lotteries prove popular 

It said a 2017 survey found 58.5 per cent of Tasmanian adults gambled in that year, down from 61.2 per cent in 2013.

Lotteries were the most common form of gambling (38.5 per cent), followed by Keno (25.9 per cent), instant scratch tickets (20.5 per cent) and electronic gaming machines (18.6 per cent).

The survey found 0.6 per cent of Tasmanian adults were classified as problem gamblers, a further 1.4 per cent as moderate risk gamblers and 4.8 per cent as low risk gamblers, with their total proportion similar to the proportion in 2011.

The discussion paper was commissioned by the state Treasury and prepared by the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies at the University of Adelaide, with the ENGINE Group, the Centre of Policy Studies at Victoria University and Tasmanian economist Saul Eslake.

The figures covered casinos, lotteries, Keno, non-casino pokies, race betting and sports betting.

Tasmanian law requires an independent review of the social and economic impact of gambling be conducted every three years.

Tassie pokies spend skyrockets

Tasmanians are pouring money into poker machines at record levels, according to the latest Treasury data.

7hofm reported in August that there has been a 28 per cent increase in pokies revenue in the Apple Isle compared to pre-pandemic revenues, with nearly $20 million in player losses throughout July.

This equates to $626,761 a day.

Nelson Upper House independent member Meg Webb said the state government hasn’t heeded the warnings, after June figures showed $2.6 million was poured into machines, just five days after venues reopened.

“It’s an increase of 23 per cent from July 2019 and a 17.5 per cent increase on the daily figures for the first five days in June 2020, which were horrifying enough,” she said.

Ms Webb argued vulnerable Tasmanians who’ve gained early access to superannuation, JobKeeper and JobSeeker are being allowed to throw their money at a time when they can least afford it.

“That’s what we saw during the Global Financial Crisis and that’s what we’re seeing now.”

Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein was quizzed about the dramatic rise in electronic gaming machine profit last week.

“Hotels and clubs were closed for a period of time. People have had increases in their discretionary income depending on their circumstances from not going overseas or interstate and they have spent them,” he said.

“Problem gamblers make up 0.6 per cent of the Tasmanian population and I’ve got no information to indicate that’s increased.”

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