Gambling participation and harm among Australian men

Ten to Men Insights #2 Report: Chapter 1

Content type
Commissioned report

October 2022


Rukhsana Tajin, Brendan Quinn, Clement Wong, Karlee O'Donnell, Bosco Rowland, Jennifer Prattley, Rebecca Jenkinson

Commissioning Body

Ten to Men


Gambling is a major public policy issue in Australia, affecting the health and wellbeing of many individuals and families. Gambling-related harms can range from financial, relationship or psychological issues to serious legal or health issues and not only affect the people who gamble but also their families, peers and the wider community. Recent estimates suggest that Australians lose approximately $25 billion on legal forms of gambling every year, representing the largest per capita losses in the world.

An emerging body of research has examined behavioural and social factors associated with gambling problems. Gambling problems are commonly assessed via the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). The PGSI provides an indication of 'at-risk' or 'problem' gambling during the previous 12 months; individuals classified as 'at-risk' gamble at a level that can cause adverse consequences. Males, particularly during early adulthood, are more likely to be classified 'at-risk' than other subpopulations, though all demographic groups are exposed to some degree of gambling risk.

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs are among the most common behavioural factors associated with gambling risk. Substance use and symptoms of poor mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety) have been found to be more prevalent among at-risk or problem gambling subpopulations than in the general population.

Gambling at a risky level can also impact the financial wellbeing of people who gamble and their family members.

Despite increasing evidence of co-occurring behaviours and harms among populations of people who gamble, limited research has examined gambling participation and associated harms, including alcohol and other drug use, mental ill-health and experience of financial stress among Australian males at a national level. The Ten to Men (TTM) dataset provides a unique opportunity to address this gap.

This chapter of the Insights #2 report used data from TTM to examine the prevalence, frequency and characteristics of gambling participation among Australian men in 2020/21. It also examines associations between at-risk and problem gambling and alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use, negative mental health experiences and financial stress.

Key messages

  • Of Australian men aged 18-63 years, 44% had gambled in the past 12 months in 2020/21.

  • One in four men who gambled (around 739,511 Australian men) were classified as being at risk of, or experiencing, problem gambling in the past year. Almost one-quarter (26%) of these men also experienced financial stress during that time.

  • Most men who gambled spent money on multiple activities, including horse racing (56%), poker machines (54%) and sports betting (46%).

  • Men most frequently gambled on sports betting, horse racing and greyhound racing.

  • Engaging in at-risk or problem gambling was significantly associated with:

    • recent financial stress (two times more likely)
    • more frequent gambling (1.71 times more likely) and gambling on a higher number of activities (1.32 times more likely)
    • drinking alcohol at harmful levels in the past year (1.25 times more likely)
    • past-year depression (1.58 times more likely).



The authors of this Insights #2 report chapter are extremely grateful to the many individuals and organisations who contributed to its development, and who continue to support and assist in all aspects of the Ten to Men study. The Department of Health and Aged Care commissioned and continues to fund Ten to Men. The study’s Scientific Advisory and Community Reference Groups provide indispensable guidance and expert input. The University of Melbourne coordinated Waves 1 and 2 of Ten to Men, and Roy Morgan collected the data at both these time points. The Social Research Centre collected Wave 3 data. A multitude of AIFS staff members collectively work towards the goal of producing high-quality publications of Ten to Men findings. We would also especially like to thank every Ten to Men participant who has devoted their time and energy to completing study surveys at each data collection wave

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Tajin, R., Quinn, B., Wong, C., O’Donnell, K., Rowland, B., Prattley, J., & Jenkinson, R. (2022). Gambling participation and harm among Australian men. In B. Quinn, B. Rowland, & S. Martin (Eds.), Insights #2 report: Findings from Ten to Men – The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health 2013-21. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.