1 In 3 Bets Placed By Aussies Last Year Were Made By Problem Gamblers, Grim New Data Shows

Aussie Bettors new data

New research has revealed a troubling boom in online gambling in Australia, with the number of Aussies betting on sports more than doubling in the past five years, and a third of all sports bets being placed by people with a gambling problem. 

The stats come from a poll of 16,000 Australians by Roy Morgan Research, the results of which were released on Tuesday. It found that 15.5 per cent of those polled had bet on sports in the last year, more than double the 7 per cent found to have placed a bet from 2019 to 2020. 

Aussie sports bettors
The number of Aussies betting on sports has more than doubled in the past five years. (Source: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

While the polling implies an explosion of sports betting in the last five years — with 3.26 million Australians making a wager from 2023 to 2024 alone — even more pressing are the stats around problem gamblers, who were found to account for almost 20 per cent of some sports betting sites’ customer base.

According to the problem gambling severity index used in the research, one in ten sports bettors were deemed as problem gamblers, and this group accounted for about a third of the total value of bets placed last year. 

The results add to previous research which found that Australians lose $25 billion each year to gambling, the highest per capita spend in the world. 

The findings were released by Alliance for Gambling Reform, and come on the one-year anniversary of a parliamentary report which called for stronger regulations around online gambling advertising, among other recommendations. 

Martin Thomas, the interim chief executive of Alliance for Gambling Reform, described the numbers in the research as “huge”, saying they highlight a “predatory online gambling industry” that is “ensnaring a whole new generation into gambling.”

Thomas pointed to the “inescapable torrent” gambling ads as having a “normalising” effect on betting, and said advertising is “grooming children and young people to gamble”.

Last year, over a million gambling ads were broadcast across Australian screens, a statistic addressed in the parliamentary report last year. 

The report — which called for online gambling ads to be banned across all media, at all times within three years — drew comments from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who described gambling ads as “annoying”, and opposition leader Peter Dutton, who called for them to be removed from sporting broadcasts

Australia Tunes In To Witness Matildas' Semi-Final
Peter Dutton called for gambling advertising to be banned during sporting broadcasts last year. (Source: Tamati Smith/Getty Images)

Despite these comments, no official government response has been given to the parliamentary report. Susan Templeman, the committee chair of the report, told Guardian Australia on Tuesday there is “keen interest” among those involved to hear the government’s course of action.

“We recognise that the government has already taken actions but, as the anniversary of the tabling of the report nears, I’ll be formally proposing that we urge the government to table its response,” Templeman said.  

If you or someone you know needs help and information about gambling, visit the National Gambling Helpline or call on 1800 858 858.

Image source: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images and Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images