Archive for December, 2015

These figures show there are less people gambling, but more money being wagered, which indicates problem gambling must be on the rise.  Will the government ever intervene?


Why Australians are gambling more than ever

Date: December 7, 2015

Perry Williams – Senior Reporter

Len Ainsworth believes Australians will always keep a fixed portion of their disposable income available for gambling. Photo: Eddie Jim

Australia’s great love affair with gambling shows no sign of levelling off.

Buried in last week’s national accounts was the startling statistic that Australian punters bet a record $6.5 billion in the September quarter, equating to $1000 a year for every Australian.

Those numbers represent a 6.1 per cent jump to $24.1 billion on the same period in 2014 compared with average annual growth of just 3 per cent during the past decade.

Len Ainsworth’s pokies business has been growing rapidly for the past five years, but its share price undervalues its future prospects, Motley Fool reckons.

But getting to the bottom of what is driving such strong gambling growth in Australia is baffling the industry.

Participation rates among Australian adults have fallen sharply in the past 15 years. Almost every state recorded rates above 80 per cent at the turn of the century meaning four out of every five adults took part in some form of gambling at least once in the year 2000.

By 2014, that number had fallen to just 64 per cent or about two out of three adults gambling in the 12-month period.

Growth in online gambling is also surging every month.Growth in online gambling is also surging every month. Photo: Bloomberg

What has startled many in the industry is that while there are fewer gamblers, with each year that passes they are betting more heavily.

“We’ve seen a drop in participation in gambling on a per-capita basis, but the expenditure on gambling hasn’t dropped,” Australian Gambling Research Centre manager Anna Thomas said. “What we are seeing is a smaller group of people gambling more heavily.”

By far the biggest gambling spend still comes via bets placed on Australia’s 200,000 poker machines. Online gambling, and sports betting in particular, is the fastest-growing area.

''The number of people we have as customers around the world is astronomical.''”The number of people we have as customers around the world is astronomical.” Photo: Bloomberg

“There was a period through the 1990s when there was a great increase in gambling. That then tailed off in the 2000s as the community came to realise the risks involved,” Ms Thomas said. “But that doesn’t account for people who are still gambling and gambling at very high levels, particularly on pokie machines. There also hasn’t been a drop in problem-gambling issues. There’s a group of people in the population who are experiencing substantial harm.”

Billionaire Len Ainsworth, the 91-year-old who made his fortune from making poker machines, attributes the lift in the amount Australians are betting to “natural” levels of growth.

“There’s a very simple answer: over the last 62 years that I’ve been in the business each year, every year the amount of money that goes into gambling is directly related to the state of the economy,” Mr Ainsworth told Fairfax Media. “If the economy goes up 5 per cent, you can bet the amount gambled will go up by that or even more.”

He argues Australians will always keep a fixed portion of their disposable income available for gambling.

“As they get more money or shall we say funds that they can spend, they will spend the same proportion of gambling as they do on everything else,” Mr Ainsworth said. “There’s nothing surprising about those numbers going up 6 per cent because I reckon we’ve had at least that much inflation over the period.”

The Ainsworth Game Technology chairman said the growth in online gambling is also surging every month.

“We’re involved in social gaming and the number of people who spend money on games is only 10 per cent. But the number of people we have as customers around the world is astronomical. We’ve got a huge number of people learning to gamble who’ve never gambled in their life for the most part and eventually, those people will try other forms of gambling too.”
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