Young people most at risk of gambling harm

Content type
Media release

October 2023


Nancy Greer, Rebecca Jenkinson, Cailem Murray Boyle, Uma Jatkar, Brian Vandenberg, Kei Sakata

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Regular gamblers at the greatest risk of harm are aged between 18 and 34 years, a new study by the Australian Gambling Research Centre at the Australian Institute of Family Studies has revealed.

955 people who bet online at least fortnightly on sports or races, plus 1,016 people who gamble at least fortnightly on pokies, were surveyed as part of the National Gambling Trends Study.

Regular pokies gamblers in this age bracket spend an average of $1,453 a month across all forms of gambling, including $500 a month on the pokies. While gamblers of all ages had high levels of meeting criteria for ‘at-risk gambling’, it was highest for these youngest pokies gamblers at 89% – indicating they spend more than they can afford, or feel guilty and stressed about their gambling, for example.

Of all regular pokies gamblers, their last session was about two hours (median), with 53% gambling alone. 6% reported their last session on the pokies lasted for more than 24 hours.

Meanwhile regular online bettors aged 18-34 years spent an average of $886 a month across all forms of gambling, and 82% met the criteria for ‘at-risk gambling’.

Of all regular online bettors, more than half had multiple betting accounts and 13% had used an offshore unregulated betting account during the past 12 months. 27% used credit cards to gamble, and less than 7% sought help for their gambling. Around half of regular online bettors participate at least weekly in sports and race betting (45% and 53% respectively). 

Research Fellow at the Australian Gambling Research Centre, Dr Nancy Greer, said while many Australians are enjoying racing carnivals and sports finals at this time of year, thousands are losing money gambling on these events.

'It may be tempting to gamble at this time of year – but it’s important to think it through, set limits, and be prepared to lose any money gambled.' Dr Greer said.

'It’s also worth being aware of the seductive nature of gambling. Many from this study reported the negative impacts of their regular gambling – for example, increased credit card debt, reduced savings and spending money, or feelings of regret, shame and distress. Despite this, few reported seeking help for their gambling.'

AIFS Research Director Dr Rae Kaspiew said the study supports recent moves by governments at all levels to reform the gambling industry.

'We hear every day that Australia is experiencing a cost of living crisis with increasing financial stress borne by everyday Australians – yet every week thousands of people are losing amounts they can’t afford to online betting platforms and pokies venues,' Dr Kaspiew said.

'The current momentum across the country to reform the gambling industry is necessary for the wellbeing of our citizens. Measures such as reducing pokies venues’ operating hours, enforcing binding limits on pokies’ losses, banning credit card use for online gambling, and introducing a national register for online gamblers to voluntarily opt-out are a justified response to the prevalence of gambling at at-risk levels.'

'Our research indicates that measures to reduce gambling harms are much needed – and we hope this latest report on the impact of gambling on regular pokies and online gamblers will inform and accelerate efforts to curb this insidious problem,' Dr Kaspiew said.

Across both forms of gambling – online and pokies – younger people were at the greatest risk. While 82% of regular pokies gamblers overall met the criteria for at-risk gambling, 89% of 18-34 year olds were in that category. The same held true for regular online gamblers, with 68% of all bettors being at-risk, compared to 82% of 18-34 year olds.

955 people who bet online at least fortnightly on sports or races, plus 1,016 people who gamble at least fortnightly on pokies, were surveyed as part of the National Gambling Trends Study.

This is the first release of the National Gambling Trends Study after a successful pilot and national roll-out between 2021 and 2022.

As part of the survey participants were asked to complete an open-text field in response to four questions about the availability and accessibility, normalisation and marketing of gambling, as well as emerging trends.

Participants pointed to an increase in online operators, gambling apps and land-based pokies, as well as excessive marketing in the form of advertisements, promotions and sponsorships. They also expressed concern about the risk of gambling-related harms to young people.

Many said they would like to see a ban on gambling advertising, and a strengthening of regulations making gambling harder to access. Some mentioned a ban on pokies in pubs, clubs and hotels, leaving them located exclusively in casinos.

Access the reports:

The Australian Gambling Research Centre is based at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). AIFS conducts original research to increase understanding of Australian families and the issues that affect them; see

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Media contact     
Kate O'Connor      
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Email: kate.o'[email protected]