Degenerative Gambling on the Rise in Australia’s Northern Territory, Damning Report Finds

Almost two years since Menzies School of Health Research was contracted to take a survey on the prevalence of gambling and wellbeing, the results are finally out. While it took ages for the local authorities to bow down to pressure and make the results public, they seem to have had a change of heart.

In the survey, 5000 adult Northern Territory residents took part in the questionnaire by answering over 100 questions on gambling expenditure. According to the report, there was an increase in degenerative gambling by 50 percent from 2015 to 2018. This meant that of the 5000 gamblers in Northern Territory, half of them continuously spent money that they couldn’t afford to by chasing losses.

The damning report also stated that 23,300 Northern Territory residents are at moderate risk of becoming problem gamblers. Interestingly, the report identified that the Northern Territory has the highest medium to low-risk compulsive gamblers in Australia’s States and territories.

The aboriginal community identified as the hardest-hit demographic with problem gambling

The report also found that 2.7 percent of male correspondents and 2.4 percent of unemployed gamblers had trouble managing their gambling addiction. The native northern territory residents were at a greater risk of getting addicted to gambling, with 5.3 percent of problem gamblers having difficulty managing their addiction. The aboriginal community in NT was the hardest hit demographic, with statistics showing an increase in gambling-related harm as compared to other non-indigenous communities.

Electronic Gaming Machines Considered the most addictive of all gambling types

The survey analyzed all betting types in NT, which included sports betting, lotteries, electronic gaming machines, bingo, keno, racetrack betting, casino tables, and poker machines. Pokies were identified as the most addictive gambling type. Over half of all people who played them every week were categorized as problem gamblers or at moderate risk of becoming compulsive gamblers.

The report, which was commissioned in 2018 by the community benefit fund, is expected to bring a much-needed change that will see restrictions raised to curb problem gambling. While it was compiled in 2019, it was only available to the public last week. This was a month after ABC, a local media house, lodged a freedom of information request with the office of the Minister for Racing, Gaming, and Licensing. However, the proposal was rejected because it didn’t fall under the Information Act. Nonetheless, last week, the report was finally released to the media house for review. When doing so, Ms. Fyles confessed that the report took too long before distributing to the public. She further stated that her office would be working hard to have it published as soon as possible.

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