NSW Survey Shows Overall Gambling Decline

A new survey commissioned by the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund and released by the government shows a significant decline in gambling levels.

While the rate of problem gambling remains somewhat stable, fewer people are gambling in general. And the results of this survey enable NSW to target help and education to the most affected groups.

Overall Results

The numbers released by the government of New South Wales were significant.

The NSW Gambling Survey 2019 contacted 10,000 people in order to better understand the current gambling landscape and changes in the past several years. There are many categories and sub-categories to help NSW best focus its efforts and resources for problem gambling and the prevention of gambling harm.

Some of the most interesting results, however, were highlighted by NSW.

In the past 12 months, 53% gambled in the past 12 months. This is down significantly from the 65% found in the 2011 survey.

Online gambling has not been as prevalent of late, with only 8% of adults choosing to gamble online within the past year. Race betting was the most common with those bettors.

In gamblers overall, lotteries were the most common type of gambling. Second in line were gaming machines, followed by instant scratcher tickets, and then race betting was last.

Problem gambling changed very little, going from 0.8% in 2011 to 1% in 2019.

The breakdown of problem gambling showed people aged 18-24 were more likely to be moderate risks, with that number at 14.9% versus 7.2% for the overall population.

Gambling Prevalence in NSW

The entire NSW Gambling Survey 2019 is 230 pages in length. It is not a light read.

It is important to note that there were exactly 10,012 surveys done over the telephone (mobile and landline) between November 2018 and February 2019. The breakdown showed that about 70% involved mobile numbers and 30% on landline phones. Those surveyed were 18 years and older living in NSW.

To break down the aforementioned 53% of adults who participated in gambling in the past 12 months:

  • 37% bought lottery tickets online or in person
  • 16% played pokies electronic gaming machines
  • 13% bet on horse or greyhound races
  • 13% bought instant scratchies
  • 9% played keno
  • 6% bet on sporting events
  • 5% played table games at a casino
  • 6% bet on esports events
  • 5% played online casino games
  • 3% bet on fantasy sports games
  • 3% played online poker

The only forms of gambling that did not decrease since 2011 were bingo and betting on non-sporting events, which remained at 2% and 1% respectively. Informal private betting increased from 3% to 5%.

It should be noted that 57% of people involved in at least one gambling activity were male, and only 48% were female. There was only one category of all types of gambling in which women played more than men, and that was bingo with 3% women and 1% men.

Interestingly, as pertaining to Australian online casino and betting activities, 19% of those surveyed did so. The vast majority of 85% gambled online at home, and 63% did so when they were alone.

Problem Gambling in NSW

As for problem gambling and the risks, the NSW government used the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) to ask questions and categorize answers.

As mentioned, the prevalence of problem gambling increased only from 0.8% to 1% from 2011 to 2019. And among those in all risk categories, men were at a higher level of risk. In general, men who gamble are at a 1.7% risk of gambling harm as compared to only 0.4% of women.

However, there were more people at low and moderate risk levels. Low risk included 6.6% of those surveyed, and moderate risk was at 2.8%. The demographics involved were as follows:

  • Young adults (18-24) at 14.9% moderate risk compared to 7.2% overall
  • Electronic gaming machines 3.6 times greater odds of producing problem gamblers
  • Problem gambling higher among unemployed people at 28.7%
  • Problem gambling in full-time students at 15.5%
  • Non-English speakers at higher risk at 20% and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders at 18%

As far as the type of harm experienced from gambling, 6.34% expressed at least one form:

  • Depression = 2.93%
  • Distress = 2.7%
  • Sleep loss = 2.21%

Very few of those surveyed had extreme harm from gambling. Bankruptcy was the result for only 0.26% of those surveyed, and doing something illegal to fund gambling or pay debts was reported by 0.31%.

The vast majority of gambling harm was rated low and moderate risk.

Solving Problems

The massive amount of data collected in the latest survey will help the NSW government properly appropriate funding for responsible gambling programs and other resources.

For the 2019/2020 year, the government allocated $35 million for programs and initiatives to prevent and minimize gambling harm, as well as to promote safe gambling and support those affected, including the gamblers and their families.

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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