Pokies on Decline In Australia For 18 Years Per New Report

Ongoing face-to-face surveys of Australians and thousands of surveys have provided information for the latest Gambling Currency Report.

The results were interesting in that the number of Australians using poker machines over the past 18 years has decreased significantly. And of those Aussies who do play the pokies, more of them do so in the Northern Territory than in other areas of the nation.

Gambling Currency Report

Conducted by Roy Morgan, the Gambling Currency Report provides an overview of the gambling industry through surveys and interviews with tens of thousands of Australians.

This report measures the overall market for 12-month periods but tracks the trends over time. It dives various aspects of the gambling industry into smaller subsections so as to track gambling participation by age, gender, location, spending, and venue.

Overall, Roy Morgan Single Source conducts ongoing interviews with more than 50,000 Australians annually while also inviting Aussies to complete and return self-completion surveys after those interviews.

Most Recent Report Overview

The latest report compiled data from October 2018 through September 2019 for Australians 18 years of age and older. More than 1,000 Australians were interviewed for this particular survey, with those surveys done in person in their homes. The interviews were extensive in nature.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said, “In general, participation in betting has been in decline for many years. The exception is sports betting, which has experienced an increase over the past 12 to 18 months, even as betting on racing has declined.”

Levine also noted a very important statistic that shows a gambling decrease over time.

“Over the past 18 years,” he said, “the number of Australians using poker machines has halved, from 4.8 million to 2.4 million.”

He noted that poker machines tend to be more popular in the Northern Territory, double the average for the entire country, which stands at 12.3%. However, Western Australia has the lowest rate of participation at 5% because pokies are located only in casinos there.

Pokies by Location

Speaking of poker machine participation by territory and state, Roy Morgan tabulated the percentage of the population in each. This shows who has played poker machines in an average three-month period in during the October 2018-September 2019 year.

  • Northern Territory = 23.6%
  • Queensland = 14.9%
  • New South Wales, including Australian Capital Territory = 14.2%
  • Tasmania = 13.5%
  • South Australia = 12.4%
  • Victoria = 10.6%
  • Western Australia = 5%
  • Total Australia = 12.3%

Betting by Location

The percentage rates of people who participated in betting, including sports and racetrack wagering, differed significantly by region.

  • Northern Territory = 15.3%
  • Victoria = 10.8%
  • New South Wales (including ACT) = 10%
  • Western Australia = 9.6%
  • Queensland = 8.1%
  • South Australia = 7.4%
  • Tasmania = 4.7%
  • Total Australia = 9.6%

Lotto by Location

It is no surprise that Aussies play the lottery at a much higher rate than any other form of gambling. Many people often don’t view the lottery as gambling since it is more mainstream, but lottery numbers and scratch tickets are as much a part of gambling culture as anything else.

As these numbers show, in every territory, participation in lotto-type gambling includes anywhere from one-third to one-half of the population or more.

  • Western Australia = 52.8%
  • Northern Territory = 51.4%
  • Queensland = 47.4%
  • Tasmania = 44.9%
  • South Australia = 40.1%
  • New South Wales (including ACT) = 38%
  • Victoria = 37.1%
  • Total Australia = 41.5%

As mentioned, the overall use of pokies in the past 18 years has decreased significantly, but lotteries are a different story. Lotteries and scratch tickets have declined since the year 2000, but participation in the past five years has stayed relatively stable.

What Does It All Mean?

Obviously, the interviews and surveys provide only a sample of the overall population. However, Roy Morgan uses more than 75 years of experience to gather and process the data. Even with the margin of error considered, the numbers in the report are in the 95% likely range.

To obtain the full Gambling Currency Report costs $21,945. Let’s just say that’s not in our budget. So, we can’t examine the minutia of the data.

The overall data presented here, though, does indicate that lottery companies should be doing the most work to address gambling issues and try to prevent gambling harm. Pokies don’t even register as half of the population that plays lottery-type games.

The trends in pokies and betting, however, do require a closer look by the territories seeing rises in participation. It will help shape the future of their responsible gambling programs and policies going forward.

It should be noted that online gambling in Australia is not even a blip on the radar. Players who frequent online casinos typically do so for entertainment purposes only, while many more people participate in legal betting, wagering, pokies, and lotteries that are regulated under the law.

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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