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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1999   
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Contents >> Income & Expenditure >> Expenditure: Expenditure on gambling

Expenditure: Expenditure on gambling

In 1996-97, expenditure on legalised gambling in Australia was $10 billion. This represented 3% of household disposable income, almost double the proportion (1.6%) spent on gambling in 1972-73.

Gambling in some form has long been a part of the Australian lifestyle. Two-up games have traditionally formed as part of Anzac Day celebrations and the entire country practically stops for a horse race (Melbourne Cup) each year. Estimates of participation in gambling for Brisbane (1994)2, New South Wales (1995)3 and Victoria (1996)4 indicate that 80%-90% of the adult population participated in one or more gambling activities in the reference year.

Gambling is also an expanding economic activity and an important source of taxation revenue for State and Territory governments. However, concern about the social and personal costs associated with ‘problem gambling’ emerges in public debate whenever a new form of legalised gambling becomes available or when access is extended into more venues, including private homes via telephone, interactive TV and internet facilities. Pressure on governments to weigh the potential social costs of gambling against the economic advantages, and to formulate appropriate policy and programs to deal with these issues, has gained momentum throughout the nineties.5 In 1998, the Productivity Commission commenced a wide ranging inquiry into the economic and social impacts of Australia's gambling industry (report due in 1999).


Gambling

Gambling is the placement of a wager or bet on the uncertain outcome of a future event.

The statistics on gambling expenditure presented in this article are compiled by the Centre for Regional Economic Analysis (University of Tasmania) on behalf of the Tasmanian Gaming Commission.1 The taxation data is compiled by the ABS as part of its Government Finance Statistics collection.

Both sets of statistics relate to the following types of legalised gambling:
  • racing - relates to betting on the outcome of horse and greyhound races and, in recent times, on some other sporting events such as football matches;
  • casino gaming - includes wagers on table games, gaming machines and keno systems;
  • gaming machines (poker machines) - in clubs and hotels. Excludes machine gaming in casinos;
  • keno (club keno) - in clubs and hotels. Excludes keno played in casinos and keno tickets purchased in lottery outlets such as newsagents;
  • lotteries, lotto, pools - includes a wide range of lotteries and lotto games, instant lotteries (scratchies), keno tickets purchased in lottery outlets and soccer pools; and
  • bingo and minor gaming - includes bingo, raffles, lucky envelopes and the like.

GAMBLING EXPENDITURE AS A PROPORTION OF HOUSEHOLD DISPOSABLE INCOME
Source: Tasmanian Gaming Commission, Australian Gambling Statistics 1972-73 - 1996-97.


Recent growth in gambling
In 1996-97, expenditure on gambling was $10 billion. This represented 3% of household disposable income (HDI), almost double the proportion (1.6%) spent on gambling in 1972-73. Most of this increase occurred during the early to mid nineties with the rapid expansion of electronic gaming machines in Victoria (introduced in 1992), Queensland (1992) and South Australia (1994) and the opening of casinos in Canberra (1992), Melbourne (1994), Sydney (1995) and Brisbane (1995). However, the recent rapid growth in gambling expenditure has now begun to level out. In some cases (e.g. Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory) expenditure on gambling declined between 1995-96 and 1996-97.


Expenditure on gambling

Expenditure on gambling is the amount wagered less the amount won. Statistics on gambling expenditure in Australia include expenditure by overseas visitors as well as Australian residents. While there is no comprehensive measure of gambling expenditure by overseas visitors to Australia, results of the ABS census of Australian casino businesses6 indicate that, in 1997-98, overseas rated players (highrollers) alone accounted for around 25% of total expenditure on casino gaming in Australia. Gambling expenditure by Australians while overseas is not within the scope of Australian gambling statistics.

State and Territory gambling statistics include expenditure by overseas and interstate visitors as well as residents of that State or Territory. Gambling statistics for some States and Territories are also affected by accounting arrangements (e.g. expenditure on Tattslotto is credited to Victoria regardless of where tickets are purchased).

Per capita expenditure on gambling is calculated by dividing total expenditure on gambling for the financial year by the resident population (aged 18 years and over) at the commencement of the financial year.

Taxes on gambling

Taxes on gambling are taxes levied on gambling and betting stakes. Taxes may be collected either from entities providing the gambling service, as a licence fee or percentage of their gross income from gambling, or from individual gamblers as a percentage of their stake. Any taxes on individual gains from gambling (collected through the personal income tax system) are excluded.

GAMBLING EXPENDITURE AND TAXES ON GAMBLING, 1996-97

Expenditure on gambling
Taxes on gambling


Total
As percentage of household disposable income
Total
As percentage of total
taxation revenue
$ million
%
$ million
%

New South Wales
3,958
3.4
1,209
10.2
Victoria
2,757
3.2
1,157
13.0
Queensland
1,561
2.9
547
12.8
South Australia
638
2.5
274
13.0
Western Australia
700
2.3
170
6.4
Tasmania
152
2.0
62
9.8
Northern Territory
100
3.3
28
9.4
Australian Capital Territory
172
2.3
49
8.6
Australia
10,037
3.0
3,497(a)
11.2(a)

(a) Combined State and Territory taxes. Excludes taxes levied by the Commonwealth Government or by local governments.

Source: Taxation Revenue, Australia, 1997-98 (cat. no. 5506.0); Tasmanian Gaming Commission, Australian Gambling Statistics 1972-73- 1996-97.


Taxation revenue from gambling
Gambling's contribution to combined State and Territory taxation revenue hovered around 9%-10% throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s. After declining to 8% in the late 1980s, it has since risen to 11% in 1996-97. This recent increase in the proportion of taxation revenue derived from gambling taxes has occurred in most States and Territories and is particularly notable in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. In these States, gambling taxes currently contribute around 13% of total taxation revenue- more than anywhere else in Australia, and about 50% more than in the late 1980s.

PER CAPITA EXPENDITURE ON GAMBLING, 1996-1997

Total(a) gambling expenditure
Type of gambling, 1996-97


1972-73
1982-83
1987-88
1996-97
Gaming
machines
Casino
Racing
Lotteries,
lotto, pools

rank
rank
rank
rank
$
$
$
$
$

New South Wales
1
1
1
1
853
536
78
145
76
Victoria
2
5
8
3
805
425
169
124
84
Queensland
3
8
7
5
635
207
176
113
96
South Australia
7
6
5
6
572
326
63
84
63
Western Australia
4
7
6
7
540
. .
290
107
122
Tasmania
5
4
4
8
436
16
214
70
55
Northern Territory
. .
2
2
2
806
123
368
202
112
Australian Capital Territory
6
3
3
4
758
525
79
83
71
Australia
. .
. .
. .
. .
736
363
144
123
85

(a) Includes club keno, bingo and minor gaming.

Source: Tasmanian Gaming Commission, Australian Gambling Statistics 1972/73 - 1996/97.


Per capita expenditure on gambling
In 1996-97, expenditure on gambling in Australia was $736, on average, for every Australian resident aged 18 years and over. Since 1972-73, New South Wales has maintained the highest per capita gambling expenditure (reaching $853 in 1996-97). During the same period Victoria's ranking has varied considerably; from second highest in 1972-73, down to the lowest between 1987-88 and 1991-92, and back up to almost equal second in 1996-97 ($805 per capita, which was only $1 less than the Northern Territory). Since the early 1980s, per capita gambling expenditure in the Northern Territory has been relatively high compared with most other States and Territories, while in South Australia and Western Australia per capita gambling expenditure has remained relatively low.

People spend more on gaming machines (poker machines) than any other form of gambling. In 1996-97, expenditure on gaming machines in clubs and pubs represented almost half of total gambling expenditure or $363 per capita. Expenditure was highest in New South Wales ($536 per capita or 63% of total gambling expenditure) and in the Australian Capital Territory ($525 per capita or 69% of total gambling expenditure). Gaming machines in clubs/pubs accounted for more expenditure than any other type of gambling activity in all parts of Australia except the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania, where availability of gaming machines in these venues was limited. (In Western Australia, gaming machines were available only at the casino.) These States had the highest per capita expenditure on casino gaming, which may be partly due to the popularity of gaming machines in their casinos. (Results of the ABS census of Australian casino businesses6 indicate that, Australia-wide, expenditure on gaming machines in casinos amounted to $556 million ($41 per capita) in 1996-97. This represented 29% of total expenditure on casino gaming and 10% of total expenditure on gaming machines). In general, expenditure on lotteries, lotto, pools etc. was relatively low, averaging $85 per capita or 12% of total gambling expenditure Australia-wide. Western Australia is a notable exception where lotteries, lotto, pools, etc. accounted for 23% of total gambling expenditure in 1996-97, second only to casino gaming.


Recent participation in gambling

The statistics on recent participation in gambling presented in this article are derived from the ABS Population Survey Monitor. Estimates relate to participation in gambling in the past week by Australian residents aged 18 years and over. The range of gambling activities is similar to that covered by the aggregate expenditure and taxation data.

Gambling participation rate - for any group, the number of persons who participated in one or more gambling activities in the week prior to interview, expressed as a percentage of the population in the same group.

GAMBLING PARTICIPATION RATES(a), 1996-97

Lotteries, lotto, pools
Gaming machines
Racing
Casino
Total(b)(c)
%
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
32.8
11.2
6.4
1.6
45.5
Victoria
31.3
9.7
5.6
2.9
43.9
Queensland
36.6
9.4
5.6
3.9
49.0
South Australia
30.7
11.1
3.9
2.4
44.6
Western Australia
44.7
1.2
4.8
3.2
52.3
Tasmania
31.0
3.8
5.8
6.4
45.6
Northern Territory
34.5
6.4
5.9
8.7
49.7
Australian Capital Territory
27.9
12.4
2.7
1.9
41.6
Australia
34.0
9.4
5.6
2.7
46.3

(a) Proportion of the population aged 18 years and over who gambled during the previous week.
(b) Includes club keno, bingo and minor gaming.
(c) The sum of the components is larger than the total as some people participated in more than one type of gambling.

Source: Unpublished data, Population Survey Monitor, 1996-97 annual sample.


Recent participation in gambling
ABS surveys of gambling participation show that, in 1996-97, 46% of Australians aged 18 years and over had taken part in one or more forms of gambling during the week before they were interviewed. Lotteries, lotto, pools and the like were by far the most popular form of gambling throughout Australia, even though they accounted for the least expenditure. During 1996-97, 34% of adults had taken part in this form of gambling in the week prior to interview. The highest rates of participation were in Western Australia (45%), Queensland (37%) and the Northern Territory (35%).

Playing gaming machines in clubs/pubs was the second most popular gambling activity (9% participation rate) followed by racing (6%) and casino (3%). This pattern was true for most of Australia. However, casino gaming was the second most popular gambling activity in the Northern Territory (where participation rates were more than triple the national average) and Tasmania (where participation rates were more than double the national average).

GAMBLING PATTERNS OF MEN AND WOMEN, 1996-97

Gambling participation rate by age group (years)

18-24
25-34
35-44
45-54
55-64
65 and over
Total
Type of gambling
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Men

    Lotteries, lotto, pools
11.0
30.5
34.7
40.5
46.0
42.8
33.9
    Gaming machines
12.9
9.0
7.0
6.5
8.3
10.2
8.8
    Racing
7.6
7.8
8.1
7.6
8.2
8.9
8.0
    Casino
4.2
2.8
1.7
2.8
3.1
2.6
2.8
Total gambling(a)(b)
30.2
43.4
46.8
52.1
55.7
53.5
46.6

Women

    Lotteries, lotto, pools
16.3
31.3
36.3
37.8
43.3
39.3
34.1
    Gaming machines
9.9
7.7
10.1
10.6
11.1
11.0
9.9
    Racing
2.0
2.8
4.1
3.9
3.8
3.0
3.3
    Casino
5.3
2.0
2.3
2.1
4.1
1.7*
2.7
Total gambling(a)(b)
30.5
42.6
47.6
50.8
55.2
49.6
45.9

(a) Includes club keno, bingo and minor gaming.
(b) The sum of the components is larger than the total as some people participated in more than one type of gambling.

Source: Unpublished data, Population Survey Monitor, 1996-97 annual sample.


Gambling patterns of men and women
In 1996-97, rates of recent participation in gambling activities increased steadily with age for both men and women - from around 30% among 18-24 year olds, to over 55% among 55-64 year olds. Participation rates then declined for people aged 65 and over, particularly for women. Men were more than twice as likely as women to gamble on racing, particularly in the under 35 and the 65 and over age groups. On the other hand, in the 35 years and over age groups, women were a little more likely than men to have played gaming machines in the previous week. Patterns of recent participation in lotteries, lotto, pools, etc. were fairly similar for men and women although women had slightly higher participation rates in the younger age groups (under 45 years) while men had slightly higher participation rates in the older age groups. Participation rates in casino gambling were also fairly similar for men and women and were highest among 18-24 year olds and 55-64 year olds.

ABS surveys of gambling participation did not collect information about how often people gambled or how much they spent. However, several other studies have found that, on average, men gambled more frequently than women and spent significantly more on gambling than women did.2,3,4 Recent studies in New South Wales (1995) and Victoria (1996) found that, on average, men spent about twice as much as women on gambling.3,4


Endnotes

1 Boreham, P., Dickerson, M., & Harley, B. 1996, ‘What are the Social Costs of gambling?: The Case of the Queensland Machine Gaming Industry’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 425-442.

2 Australian Institute for Gambling Research 1996, Study 2; An Examination of the Socio-economic Effects of Gambling on Individuals, Families and the Community, Including Research into the Costs of Problem Gambling in New South Wales, prepared for the Casino Community Benefit Fund Trustees, Sydney.

3 Market solutions (Australia) Pty Ltd 1997, VCGA Survey of Community Gambling Patterns, Final Report, prepared for the Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority, Melbourne.

4 Dickerson, M. 1995, Problem Gambling: Future Directions in Research, Treatment, Prevention and Policy Initiatives, National Association for Gambling Studies: Sixth Annual Conference, Fremantle.

5 Tasmanian Gaming Commission 1998, Australian Gambling Statistics 1972-73 - 1996-97, Hobart.

6 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1998, Casinos, Australia, 1997-98 (cat. no. 8683.0), ABS, Canberra.


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