The AGRC placed the issue of gambling harms prevalence in the context of a public debate in Australia about the rise in gambling advertising nationwide. According to the Victoria Responsible Gambling Foundation, national spending on gambling advertising grew to AU$287.2m (£155.7m/€177.3m/US$190.0m) in 2021 compared to the AU$15.9m spent by industry the previous year.
“Policy makers, service providers, researchers and the broader community have raised concerns about the proliferation of wagering advertising in Australia and its impacts on gambling behaviour and risk of harm,” said the study.
“To enhance understanding and inform improved policy responses, we asked Australian adults about their participation in gambling, attitudes towards wagering advertising, how exposure to advertising influences their behaviour and their views on potential policy responses.”
The AGRC survey found that gambling was widespread throughout Australian society. According to the organisation, 73% of all Australian adults have placed a bet at least once in their life. Those who regularly gamble at least once a week represented a significant chunk of the total population at 38%.
The Foundation also said that the most popular products people placed bets on are lotteries, scratch cards, horse racing, sports and poker machines.
In terms of the relationship between gambling and gender, the study showed that men gambled more than women on every product included in the survey. Men gambled more frequently, tended to spend more money – and were overall more likely to be at risk of experiencing gambling harms.
Attitudes to industry
The survey also asked Australians in general about their attitudes to gambling in country, even if they did not regularly place bets. Some 77% of the total population agree with the statement that there are “too many opportunities for gambling nowadays”.
Most Australians also agreed that gambling was “dangerous for family life at 68%” and the activity “should be discouraged at 59%”.
Most adults also reported to being regularly exposed to gambling advertising in the past 12 months, with 78% saying that they saw or heard gambling advertising at least once a week, while 41% said that it was more like four times a week.
The AGRC also said that young people – defined as those aged 18-34 – were more likely to be exposed through social media or online, while people aged 55+ were more likely to see advertising through television, radio or print.
Support for reform
The research institute also asked individuals who responded to the survey about their political attitudes about gambling, and gambling adverting in the country.
The study found 64% of Australians responded affirmatively to the question of whether the government should play a bigger role in deciding how wagering was advertised.
The Foundation said many Australians supported outright bans of gambling advertising, highlighting that 53% said that they supported a watershed ban on all advertising broadcast before 10:30pm, compared to the 19% who said that they opposed the measure.
Close to half (47%) said that they would want all social media advertising banned, to 23% who were opposed, while 42% of people said that they were in favour of sponsorship bans.
“Findings from our research can help to inform future regulatory and policy responses to minimise gambling-related health, social and economic harms to affected individuals and communities,” said the report.