Gambling in suburban Australia: initial findings
The Gambling in Suburban Australia study is designed to provide evidence of the contextual and environmental factors that influence gambling at a neighbourhood level and how this affects local gambling.
While an analysis and full write up of the study is underway the preliminary findings show that:
- High levels of exposure to high intensity forms of gambling, combined with high levels of social stress, often contribute to severe crisis and ongoing harms from gambling in poorer neighbourhoods.
- Substantial harms are also occurring in middle income areas, however, in these communities those affected are more likely to have access to resources to support them in absorbing - and in some instances - recovering from harm.
This pilot study initially explored two local areas of Melbourne:
- one site in the western suburbs with high poker machine expenditure and high levels of relative socio-economic disadvantage; and
- one site in the eastern with mid-range levels of disadvantage and poker machine expenditure.
Each site is similar in terms of:
- its population size;
- the distance from the CBD (although in opposite directions); and
- the number of households.
However, there are differences in socio-economic status and migrant populations:
- The western suburbs site has a higher level of socio-economic disadvantage – with socio-economic indexes for the suburbs scoring well below the average.
- The eastern suburbs site has socio-economic indexes around average.
The key differences between the two areas are that the western suburbs site has:
- many more gambling venues;
- double the number of electronic gaming machines (pokies); and
- more than 3 times the amount of per capita pokies losses.
|Site 1 (West)||Site 2 (East)|
|Geographic & demographic data|
|Range SEIFA IRSD (Suburb)||801-907||998-1,082|
|Total EGM losses FY 2014||$55,142,613||$18,605,994|
The study used multiple research methods including:
- analysis of regulator and census data
- a survey
- unannounced observations of poker machine venues
- interviews with gamblers, significant others and professionals
- focus groups with local residents
The researchers are seeking to account for differences in the distribution of gambling related harm between places.