Poker players have highest rate of problem gambling

Poker players have highest rate of problem gambling

Media Release — 15 February 2018

An image of poker cards and casino chips in the background

An estimated 132,000 Australians regularly gamble on poker and nearly half of them experience one or more gambling-related problems, according to new analysis by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC), part of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

AGRC manager, Dr Jennifer Baxter said that most poker players were men, who were employed full-time and aged under 50.

Dr Baxter said annual expenditure on poker averaged around $1,758 per player over 2015, and that poker was the least popular gambling activity among regular gamblers.

“The data shows that while very few Australians play poker regularly there is a very high rate of problem gambling among those that do, as well as a high rate of financial problems in their households.”

AGRC Lead researcher Dr Andrew Armstrong said compared to other activities, poker had the highest proportion of regular players with one or more gambling-related problems (46 per cent of players), including the highest proportion with moderate to severe problems (39 per cent of players).

Regular players spent an estimated $228 million on poker over the year, or $1,758 per player – the highest average amount spent by regular gamblers on a single gambling activity.

“Poker players also regularly spent money on other gambling activities, with poker making up to 48 per cent of their total gambling spending and the remainder spread across an array of gambling activities.

“In total, the average poker player spent $3, 673 on their regular gambling activities over the year.

“Around half (46 per cent) of regular poker players – 60,000 adults – experienced one or more gambling-related problems, when gambling caused or put them at risk of harm.

“Around 39 per cent of regular poker players – 51,000 adults – had moderate to severe gambling problems.

“Poker players with gambling problems spent substantially more annually on gambling overall ($5,434), than the average poker player ($3,673).

Dr Armstrong said that well over a third of poker players felt they might have a gambling problem.

“Over a third bet more than they could afford to lose and tried to win back the money they had lost on another day, while around a quarter had been told that they had a gambling problem and had caused financial problems for themselves or their households.

“Gambling had also caused physical or mental health problems for a quarter of poker players. These rates were higher than those for any other gambling activity. The problems stemmed from their overall gambling activity, including poker.

“Households containing regular poker players were much more likely to experience financial problems than the average Australian household.

“Well over a third of households containing a poker player had members who reported asking family or friends for financial help during the year, and one in five had household members who reported that they could not pay the rent or mortgage on time.

“We know from other research that gambling problems can have a significant impact on families including impaired family relationships, diminished emotional and physical health and cause family conflict.”

The national gambling help service provides support and information 24/7, by phone (1800 858 858), and online (

Access the Australian Gambling Research Centre’s Poker activity  summary and the full report on  Gambling Activity in Australia.