Gambling in suburban Australia: initial findings

pokie machines in a gambling venue

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.

Preliminary findings

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.

Study locations

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
Adult population 40,619 46,492
No. households 20,264 20,159
Range SEIFA IRSD (Suburb) 801-907 998-1,082
Gambling data
Clubs venues 3 2
Hotels venues 5 1
Total EGM losses FY 2014 $55,142,613 $18,605,994
No. EGM 407 205
Loss/EGM $135,486 $90,761
Expenditure/adult $1,358 $400

Research methods

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.

Gambling support

Are you experiencing issues with gambling?

Find the help which is right for you by visiting our Gambling help page.

Gambling less for life

Gambling less for life

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