Gambling activity in Australia

Findings from wave 15 of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey
Research Report – November 2017

3. Gambling expenditure

Introduction

This chapter presents HILDA survey-based estimates of typical past-year expenditure by regular gamblers in 2015, derived from self-reported, typical monthly spends. This information is presented in two ways. First, estimates of national expenditure by all regular gamblers in Australia are presented, which takes into account the estimated number of people participating in each gambling activity, and their spending on those activities. The national estimates are presented for overall spending on gambling as well as for each activity. These estimates are also presented in terms of what proportion of spending is accounted for by each sociodemographic group. The other perspective shown here is the average expenditure among those who report spending on gambling overall, and on particular activities. This analysis also compares average spending across sociodemographic groups.

Mean expenditure estimates for the five most common activities (lotteries, instant scratch tickets, EGMs, race betting, sports betting) are further provided for each sociodemographic group (e.g. average expenditure on sports betting by male participants). Due to sample size limitations, this level of detail could not be accurately estimated for the remaining five activities (keno, casino table games, bingo, private betting, poker).

All estimates of past-year expenditure were calculated by multiplying regular gamblers' self-reported typical monthly spend by 12. The estimates therefore do not represent total gambling expenditure for the year, which would include amounts from high and low spend months, and expenditure on activities where participation was less than monthly.6

See Appendix A for a comparison between the HILDA survey-based estimates of regular gamblers' typical expenditure presented in this chapter, and total gambling expenditure reported by the Australian gambling industry.

Key findings

  • Typical monthly expenditure by the 6.8 million regular gamblers amounted to an estimated $8.6 billion dollars nationally for 2015. Lotteries (42%), EGMs (21%) and race betting (15%) accounted for most of this.
  • The majority of national gambling expenditure by regular gamblers was accounted for by participants who were male, aged 30-64, born in Australia, spoke English as a first language, had completed no more than 10 years of schooling, were employed full-time, married/in a de facto relationship, lived in a major city, had a high income, and drew their main source of income from employment.
  • Typical past-year expenditure on gambling was an estimated average of $1,272 per regular participant. In terms of particular activities, poker recorded the highest average spend per participant ($1,785) and instant scratch tickets the lowest ($248).
  • Gamblers generally spent around half of their overall gambling outlay on a single product. Lotteries (79%) and keno (32%) were exceptions, accounting for substantially more and less of their respective participants' overall outlays.
  • Mean expenditure was significantly higher than average among gamblers who were male, had completed schooling no further than year 10, were employed full-time, single, and lived with multiple adults. It was lower among gamblers who had a university degree, and lived in a house with children.
  • Mean expenditure was otherwise similar between gamblers with different sociodemographic characteristics, including those with low and high incomes and those whose main source of income was either a wage or welfare payment.

National gambling expenditure

Table 3.1 shows HILDA survey-based estimates of national past-year gambling expenditure by regular participants on each activity.

Typical monthly gambling expenditure by the 6.8 million regular gamblers amounted to approximately $8.6 billion dollars over 2015. Lotteries (42%), EGMs (21%) and race betting (15%) together accounted for around three quarters of this amount. Seven activities accounted for the remaining quarter.

Table 3.1: National past-year expenditure by regular activity participants
  National expenditure Proportion of national
expenditure
Activity $M %
Lottery 3,577 41.6
Instant scratch tickets 368 4.3
EGMs 1,820 21.1
Race betting 1,265 14.7
Sports betting 579 6.7
Keno 226 2.6
Casino table games 256 3.0
Bingo 156 1.8
Private betting 134 1.6
Poker 228 2.7
  8,609 100.0

Notes: Values are based on weighted data and capped expenditure. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. Expenditure calculations exclude those who reported they had participated in an activity in a typical month, but who did not report a dollar amount when prompted for the expenditure. See Appendix A for a comparison between these survey-based estimates and actual 'known' expenditure reported by industry

National gambling expenditure by sociodemographic characteristics

Table 3.2 shows HILDA survey-based estimates of national gambling expenditure, by regular gamblers, for each sociodemographic group.

The sociodemographic groups responsible for the highest proportion of gambling expenditure were males, those aged 50-64, those born in Australia, those who spoke English as a first language, who had a certificate or diploma, were employed full-time, were married/in a de facto relationship, lived in a multiple adult household with no children, owned their home with a mortgage, lived in a major city, those who had higher incomes, and drew their main source of income from employment.

Table 3.2: National past-year expenditure by sociodemographic characteristics
  Total spend Proportion of total
Subpopulation categories $M %
Overall
All gamblers 8,609 100.0
Sex
Male 5,509 64.0
Female 3,100 36.0
Age group
18-29 1,079 12.5
30-49 2,648 30.8
50-64 2,837 33.0
65+ 2,046 23.8
Indigenous status
Non-Indigenous 8,366 97.2
Indigenous 243 2.8
Region of birth a
Australia 6,145 71.4
Europe 1,000 11.6
Asia 605 7.0
First language spoken
English 7,467 86.7
Other 923 10.7
Highest education Level
Below year 10 769 8.9
Completed year 10 1,813 21.1
Completed year 12 1,172 13.6
Certificate or diploma 3,512 40.9
Bachelors or higher 1,328 15.5
Employment
Employed full-time 4,351 50.5
Employed part-time 1,226 14.2
Unemployed-looking for work 243 2.8
Retired 2,060 23.9
Full-time student np -
Not employed-not looking for work 629 7.3
Relationship status
Married/in a de facto relationship 4,818 56.0
Single 3,791 44.0
Household composition
Single adult household 1,311 15.2
Couple only household 2,471 28.7
Household with children 1,741 20.2
Multiple adult household 3,087 35.9
Housing tenure
Own outright 1,610 18.7
Own with mortgage 4,613 53.6
Rent 2,172 25.2
Remoteness
Major city 6,054 70.3
Inner regional 1,618 18.8
Outer regional/remote 937 10.9
SEIFA quintile b
Lowest 1,863 21.6
2 1,759 20.4
Middle 1,573 18.3
4 1,655 19.2
Highest 1,761 20.5
Equivalised disposable household income c 
<$29,500 1,579 18.3
$29,500-$41,499 1,500 17.4
$41,500-$53,999 1,770 20.6
$54,000-$73,499 1,881 21.8
$73,500+ 1,879 21.8
Main source of household income
Wages/salary/business 6,103 70.9
Govt. pension/allowance/benefit 1,782 20.7
Superannuation/annuity/investment 708 8.2

Notes: Values are based on weighted data and capped expenditure. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or non-response. Expenditure calculations exclude those who reported they had participated in an activity in a typical month, but who did not report a dollar amount when prompted for the expenditure. a Only regions of birth representing >10% of the population are presented. b Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas 2011. c Household income after tax, weighted for size and composition of household.

National gambling expenditure on each activity by sociodemographic characteristics

Table 3.3 shows past-year expenditure on the five most common activities by regular gamblers in each sociodemographic group.

The sociodemographic groups that spent the most on each of the five activities were the same as those for overall expenditure, with a few exceptions:

  • Females spent more than males on instant scratch tickets.
  • People in lower income groups spent more on instant scratch tickets and EGMs than those with higher incomes.
  • Those aged 18-29 spent more on sports betting compared to other age groups.
  • Single people spent more on EGMs and sports betting than those who were married/in a de facto relationship.
Table 3.3: National past-year expenditure on each activity by sociodemographic characteristics
  Lottery Instant scratch tickets EGMs Race betting Sports betting
Subpopulation categories $M % $M % $M % $M % $M %
Overall
All activity participants 3,577 100.0 368 100.0 1,820 100.0 1,265 100.0 579 100.0
Sex
Male 2,132 59.6 176 47.8 1,009 55.4 1,129 89.2 512 88.4
Female 1,445 40.4 192 52.2 812 44.6 137 10.8 67# 11.6
Age group
18-29 125 3.5 37 10.1 216 11.9 191 15.1 229 39.6
30-49 1,138 31.8 107 29.1 467 25.7 393 31.1 223 38.5
50-64 1,322 37.0 131 35.6 606 33.3 457 36.1 82 14.2
65+ 992 27.7 92 25.0 531 29.2 225 17.8 np -
Indigenous status 
Non-Indigenous 3,515 98.3 354 96.2 1,756 96.5 1,232 97.4 556 96.0
Indigenous 62 1.7 13# 3.5 64 3.5 34# 2.7 23# 4.0
Region of birtha
Australia 2,491 69.6 267 72.6 1,299 71.4 1,025 81.0 432 74.6
Europe 483 13.5 31 8.4 253 13.9 128# 10.1 30# 5.2
Asia 248 6.9 29# 7.9 133 7.3 23# 1.8 np -
First language spoken 
English 3,125 87.4 317 86.1 1,609 88.4 1,199 94.8 520 89.8
Other 356 10.0 40# 10.9 175# 9.6 58# 4.6 np -
Highest education level 
Below year 10 315 8.8 42 11.6 234 12.9 52 4.2 np -
Completed year 10 737 20.6 77 21.0 441 24.2 247 19.6 99 17.2
Completed year 12 406 11.4 31 8.6 260 14.3 201 16.0 107 18.5
Certificate or Diploma 1,498 42.0 152 41.5 685 37.6 544 43.1 214 36.9
Bachelors or higher 614 17.2 63 17.3 200 11.0 216 17.1 120 20.8
Employment
Employed full-time 1,760 49.2 162 44.1 766 42.1 762 60.2 360 62.1
Employed part-time 533 14.9 49 13.4 252 13.8 145 11.5 91# 15.8
Unemployed- looking for work 53 1.5 7 2.0 79# 4.3 np - np -
Retired 975 27.3 100 27.2 537 29.5 229 18.1 np -
Full-time student np - np - 8# 0.4 np - np -
Not employed-not looking for work 245 6.9 39 10.6 177 9.7 np - 10# 1.7
Relationship status 
Married/in a de facto relationship 2,300 64.3 217 59.0 871 47.9 655 51.8 236 40.8
Single 1,278 35.7 151 41.0 950 52.2 610 48.2 343 59.2
Household composition 
Single adult household 513 14.3 46 12.5 342 18.8 219 17.3 60 10.4
Couple only household 1,149 32.1 110 29.9 525 28.8 381 30.1 147 25.4
Household with children 776 21.7 81 22.0 290 15.9 240 19.0 104 18.0
Multiple adult household 1,139 31.8 130 35.4 664 36.5 426 33.6 268 46.3
Housing tenure
Own outright 732 20.5 61 16.6 333 18.3 263 20.8 136 23.5
Own with mortgage 1,973 55.2 188 51.1 934 51.3 645 51.0 274 47.3
Rent 765 21.4 112 30.4 525 28.8 308 24.3 160# 27.6
Remoteness
Major city 2,445 68.4 236 64.1 1,286 70.7 867 68.5 480 82.9
Inner regional 726 20.3 78 21.2 364 20.0 230 18.2 62 10.7
Outer regional/remote 406 11.4 53 14.4 170 9.3 169 13.4 37# 6.4
SEIFA quintile b
Lowest 712 19.9 92 25.0 482 26.5 265 20.9 67 11.6
2 775 21.7 71 19.3 359 19.7 276 21.8 73# 12.6
Middle 677 18.9 66 17.9 360 19.8 161 12.7 84# 14.5
4 731 20.4 75 20.4 294 16.2 260 20.6 156 26.9
Highest 682 19.1 64 17.4 326 17.9 304 24.0 199 34.4
Equivalised disposable household income c 
<$29,500 674 18.8 70 19.0 424 23.3 181 14.3 57# 9.8
$29,500-$41,499 644 18.0 76 20.7 296 16.3 239 18.9 109# 18.8
$41,500-$53,999 679 19.0 101 27.4 440 24.2 205 16.2 85# 14.7
$54,000-$73,499 758 21.2 63 17.1 403 22.1 268 21.2 152 26.3
$73,500+ 823 23.0 57 15.5 257 14.1 373 29.5 176 30.4
Main source of household income
Wages/salary/business 2,527 70.6 253 68.8 1,115 61.3 914 72.3 488 84.3
Govt. pension/allowance/benefit 744 20.8 89 24.2 539 29.6 212 16.8 np -
Superannuation/annuity/investment 297 8.3 24 6.5 160 8.8 139 11.0 np -

Notes: Values are based on weighted data and capped expenditure. Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding or non-response. a Only regions of birth representing >10% of the population are presented.
b Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas 2011. c Household income after tax, weighted for size and composition of household. # RSE between 30% and 50%. np - data not presented due to insufficient responses or RSE >50%. Expenditure calculations exclude those who reported they had participated in an activity in a typical month, but who did not report a dollar amount when prompted for the expenditure.

Mean gambling expenditure

Table 3.4 presents mean expenditure on each activity by regular gamblers in 2015. The estimated amount activity participants spent across all regular gambling activities is included in the second column. The third column shows the mean proportion of their total typical gambling expenditure that the activity in question constituted. The annual dollar values reflect mean typical monthly expenditure multiplied by twelve.

The mean typical expenditure per gambler was $1,272 for 2015. Poker saw the highest mean spend per participant, followed by casino table games, race betting, EGMs and sports betting, all of which exceeded $1000.

Lottery participants spent most of their average gambling outlay for the year on this single activity (79%; a mean lottery spend of $695 would equate to a total gambling outlay of $878), whereas keno participants spent only one third of their gambling money on this activity. All other activities attracted somewhere around half of respective participants' average gambling outlay for the year, with private betting being the lowest of these (43%) and EGMs the highest (60%).

Table 3.4: Mean past-year expenditure by regular activity participants
  Mean spend on
activity
95% CI Estimated average
total gambling
expenditure
Proportion of total
gambling spend
accounted for by
activity
Activity $ $ $ %
Lottery 695 658-733 878 79.2
Instant scratch tickets 248 215-281 622 39.9
EGMs 1,292 1,150-1,433 2,146 60.2
Race betting 1,308 1,140-1,477 2,502 52.3
Sports betting 1,032 767-1,296 2,305 44.8
Keno 425 354-497 1,310 32.4
Casino table games 1,369 962-1,776 2,566 53.4
Bingo 863 676-1,050 1,568 55.1
Private betting 898 633-1,163 2,080 43.2
Poker # 1,758 505-3,065 3,674 47.9
All gamblers 1,272 1,183-1,361 - 100.0

Notes: Values are based on weighted data and capped expenditure. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. Expenditure calculations exclude those who reported they had participated in an activity in a typical month, but who did not report a dollar amount when prompted for the expenditure. # RSE between 30% and 50%

Mean gambling expenditure by sociodemographic characteristics

Table 3.5 shows mean past-year gambling expenditure by participants in each sociodemographic group.

For the most part, mean gambling expenditure did not differ significantly across sociodemographic groups. Similar amounts were spent by people of different age, Indigenous status, country of birth, language spoken at home, housing tenure, remoteness, area economic advantage, income and source of income.

Gambling expenditure was significantly higher than average among male gamblers, those who had completed schooling no further than year 10, were employed full-time, single and lived with multiple adults.

Expenditure was lower than average among females, those aged 30-49, those who had a university degree, and lived in a household with children.

Table 3.5: Mean past-year expenditure by sociodemographic characteristics
  Mean spend 95% CI
Subpopulation categories $ $
Overall
All gamblers 1,272 1,183-1,361
Sex
Male 1,499↑ 1,374-1,625
Female 1003↓ 922-1,083
Age group
18-29 1,341 963-1,720
30-49 1,148↓ 1,009-1,286
50-64 1,381 1,204-1,557
65+ 1,278 1,144-1,412
Indigenous status
Non-Indigenous 1,267 1,178-1,355
Indigenous 1,496 934-2,057
Region of birth a
Australia 1,262 1,182-1,342
Europe 1,242 982-1,503
Asia 1,218 765-1,671
First language spoken
English 1,245 1,176-1,314
Other 1,440 845-2,035
Highest education Level
Below year 10 1,250 1,030-1,469
Completed year 10 1,417↑ 1,257-1,577
Completed ear 12 1,336 988-1,685
Certificate or diploma 1,367 1,205-1,529
Bachelor or higher 942↓ 791-1,093
Employment
Employed full-time 1,353↑ 1,221-1,486
Employed part-time 1,117 966-1,268
Unemployed-looking for work 1,588 883-2,292
Retired 1,222 1,099-1,345
Full-time student 1,207 30-2,385
Not employed-not looking for work 1,190 824-1,556
Relationship status
Married/in a de facto relationship 1,195↓ 1,087-1,302
Single 1,387↑ 1,248-1,525
Household composition
Single adult household 1,372 1,199-1,545
Couple only household 1,278 1,140-1,417
Household with children 1,002↓ 860-1,143
Multiple adult household 1,442↑ 1,239-1,645
Housing Tenure
Own outright 1,298 1,116-1,480
Own with mortgage 1,282 1,181-1,382
Rent 1,237 1,079-1,394
Remoteness
Major city 1,294 1,167-1,421
Inner regional 1,202 1,094-1,311
Outer regional/remote 1,262 1,067-1,457
SEIFA quintile b
Lowest 1,400 1,221-1,580
2 1,327 1,163-1,491
Middle 1,178 989-1,366
4 1,224 1,087-1,361
Highest 1,236 1,029-1,443
Equivalised disposable household income c
<$29,500 1,218 1,073-1,363
$29,500-$41,499 1,142 998-1,287
$41,500-$53,999 1,293 1,107-1,480
$54,000-$73,499 1,331 1,150-1,512
$73,500+ 1,366 1,179-1,553
Main source of household income
Wages/salary/business 1,280 1,176-1,385
Govt. pension/allowance/benefit 1,280 1,124-1,437
Superannuation/annuity/investment 1,203 936-1,471

Notes: Values based on weighted data and capped expenditure. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or non-response. a Only regions of birth representing >10% of the population are presented. b Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas 2011. c Household income after tax, weighted for size and composition of household. ↑ and ↓ are used to indicate values significantly above or below overall mean spend at p<.05. Expenditure calculations exclude those who reported they had participated in an activity in a typical month, but who did not report a dollar amount when prompted for the expenditure.

Mean activity-level gambling expenditure by sociodemographic characteristics

Table 3.6 shows mean expenditure on the five most common activities by participant sociodemographic characteristics for 2015. Within each activity, mean expenditure by sociodemographic characteristic was compared to the overall activity mean expenditure. Participant sample sizes were too small to provide this level of detail reliably for the five remaining activities (keno, casino table games, bingo, private betting, poker).

Lottery expenditure was significantly higher than the mean spend of $695 among people who were male, aged 50 and over, and lived with their partner.

The mean spending on instant scratch ticket expenditure varied little across sociodemographic groups, with a yearly mean spend of $248overall.

Electronic gaming machine expenditure was significantly higher than the mean spend of $1,292 among people who lived alone, and lived in a major city.

Race betting expenditure was significantly higher than the mean spend of $1,308among people who were male. The yearly average for males on this activity ($1,442) was around double that for females ($741).

Among sports betting participants (with a mean spend of $1,032), differences by sociodemographic characteristics were largely not statistically significant, although there was some variation apparent for the socio-economic status of the region, and household income.

Overall, variation in spending was much greater across activities than across sociodemographic characteristics.

Table 3.6: Mean past-year expenditure on each activity, by sociodemographic characteristics
  Lottery Instant scratch
tickets
EGMs Race betting Sports betting
Subpopulation categories $ $ $ $ $
Overall
All activity participants 695 248 1,292 1,308 1,032
Sex
Male 782↑ 261 1,311 1,442↑ 1,034
Female 598↓ 237 1,268 741↓ 1,017#
Age group
18-29 395↓ 199 951↓ 1,263 1,238
30-49 615↓ 235 1,306 1,159 932
50-64 767↑ 267 1,452 1,505 804
65+ 790↑ 263 1,305 1,293 np
Indigenous status
Non-Indigenous 696 247 1,311 1,321 1,041
Indigenous 634 286 926 969 850
Region of birth a
Australia 695 246 1,179↓ 1,310 940
Europe 709 209 1,459 1,553 859
Asia 599 318 2,577 662# np
First language spoken
English 693 238 1,235 1,327 986
Other 661 319 2,169# 1,252# np
Highest education level
Below year 10 653 306 1,432 905 np
Completed year 10 756 254 1,442 1,261 1,185
Completed year 12 713 179↓ 1,118 1,313 874
Certificate or diploma 744 280 1,245 1,391 1,150
Bachelors or higher 560↓ 199 1,282 1,292 808
Employment
Employed full-time 699 252 1,396 1,411 904
Employed part-time 655 188↓ 1,042 972 1,135
Unemployed-looking for work 518↓ 203 1,352 1,285 np
Retired 750 267 1,240 1,222 np
Full-time student 362 399# 439# np np
Not employed-not looking for work 636 279 1,664 1,414# 547#
Relationship status
Married/in a de facto relationship 693 258 1,234 1,248 939
Single 700 235 1,349 1,379 1,108
Household composition
Single adult household 743 215 1,645↑ 1,516 795
Couple only household 749↑ 261 1,223 1,328 1,088
Household with children 571↓ 245 1,250 988↓ 762
Multiple adult household 728 253 1,228 1,451 1,253
Housing Tenure
Own outright 752 223 1,226 1,437 1,562
Own with mortgage 697 251 1,333 1,253 889
Rent 632 264 1,322 1,247 1,005
Remoteness
Major city 681 245 1,410↑ 1,337 1,103
Inner regional 735 241 1,063↓ 1,220 681
Outer regional/remote 714 274 1,102 1,293 1,059#
SEIFA quintile b
Lowest 731 284 1,242 1,246 641↓
2 761 260 1,252 1,456 867#
Middle 662 242 1,295 1,116 1,034#
4 716 248 1,212 1,149 1,107
Highest 615↓ 205 1,522 1,559 1,326
Equivalised disposable household income c
<$29,500 716 237 1,199 1,085 1,057#
$29,500-$41,499 641 269 1,073 1,405 1,119
$41,500-$53,999 654 306 1,440 1,015 839#
$54,000-$73,499 701 212↓ 1,463 1,439 1,146
$73,500+ 761 207 1,294 1,538 1,001
Main source of household income
Wages/salary/business 688 241 1,288 1,246 970
Govt. pension/allowance/benefit 744 288 1,318 1,305 np
Superannuation/annuity/investment 653 202 1,225 1,963 2,407#

Notes: Values based on weighted data and capped expenditure. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or non-response. a Only regions of birth representing >10% of the population are presented. b Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas 2011. c Household income after tax, weighted for size and composition of household. ↑ and ↓ are used to indicate values significantly above or below overall mean spend at p<.05. Expenditure calculations exclude those who reported they had participated in an activity in a typical month, but who did not report a dollar amount when prompted for the expenditure.

6 As noted in Section 1, to reduce the impact of outliers (extreme high and low values) on estimates of gambling expenditure, estimates were Winsorised whereby values were capped at the top and bottom 1%.