NT Problem Gamblers Doubled in Numbers between 2015 and 2018

Problem gambling has become an issue in the Northern Territory (NT), a survey 2018 revealed, yet its findings were not made public only until recently when the Government backtracked on its refusal to release the report.

Taxpayer-Funded Survey

In 2018, the Menzies School of Health Research produced the Gambling Prevalence and Wellbeing Survey, having received funding from the Government’s Community Benefit Fund to the amount of AU$695,000 to research gambling tendency among Territory residents.

The survey analyzed responses from 5,000 adults to more than 100 questions and found out that people residing in the Territory with gambling problems have doubled in numbers in just 3 years, 1.4% of 2018 responders, compared to 0.7% of survey participants in 2015.

Besides the people who were found to already have problems with excessive gambling or feel stressed about gambling, around 2,500 adults, the survey sample showed 23,300 residents were at moderate or low risk of developing problem gambling patterns.

Demographics Important

The final report which was written in late 2019 dived further into demographics, finding out male gamblers were at even greater risk, 2.7%, while people suffering from unemployment also showed a higher tendency to lean to gambling, 2.4%. The rate jumps to 5.3% for indigenous gamblers.

“The NT has the highest rates of problem gambling, moderate-risk and low-risk problem gambling compared with the most recent estimates from other Australian jurisdictions.”

Survey Report

The analysis by gambling categories, poker machines, lotteries, bingo, casino tables, sports betting, and racetrack wagering, found out the impact of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) was of particular concern, with over 50% of pokies players on a weekly basis being classified as having problem gambling or being exposed to a moderate risk of developing it.

“Furthermore, EGMs were identified as the gambling activity for those that were harmed by someone else’s gambling in over 70 per cent of those harmed.”

Survey Report

Silver Lining

The report which pointed out only 13% of problem gamblers sought professional help, also had a silver lining showing that the number of adult residents of the NT who participated in gambling had dropped from 76% in 2015 to 72% in 2018.

The survey report was given to the NT Department of Attorney General and Justice in March 2020, after being peer-reviewed by the Australian National University. In July, the report reached the office of the Minister for Racing, Gaming, and Licensing.

After refusing multiple attempts to release the report findings, including a Freedom of Information request which was denied on the grounds that the report was exempt under the information act since it had been prepared for Cabinet’s consideration only, the office finally released the taxpayer-funded survey this week.

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