Australia Still Facing Increasing Number of Problem Gamblers

Australia is still battling rising addiction to gambling among local players, with slot machines also known as pokies becoming more popular among customers.

The rising number of problem gamblers addicted to Australian poker machines have led to a massive wave of criticism from anti-gambling campaigners in the country who claim that pokies have an addictive power that could have negative effect on players’ lives.

According to a data provided by the Queensland state government earlier in December, Australian players generated gambling losses amounting to AU$24 billion on an annual basis. More 50% of these losses were generated on slot machines available at clubs and pubs across the country.

As reported by BBC, a spokesman of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, compared gambling in Australia to “guns in America”. Mr. Costello explained that the constantly increasing number of addictions is something that needs to be changed, so they aim to do that.

Currently, about 20% of the slot machines, also known as poker machines, on a global scale are located on the territory of Australia. Western Australia has restricted them to being offered at a single casino, but in the rest of the country they are quite common. For the time being, Australia is the country which has more slot machines per capita than almost any other country on a global scale, with them totalling nearly 200,000.

An average of about AU$1,300 per person are spent on gambling every year, according to data released by Charles Livingstone, one of the Melbourne-based Monash University’s gambling researchers.

According to the spokesman of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, gambling stress pushes over 400 local residents to commit suicide every year, with this figure being revealed by the country’s Productivity Commission. Mr. Costello has shared his feelings for the pokies, blaming them for being built to addict players by releasing dopamine levels that influence customers’ brains as cocaine.

National Self-Exclusion Register to Be Rolled Out in 2018

The truth is that many players see nothing wrong in pokies, as they see them as harmless pastime. Others, however, are dragged deeper and deeper into gambling addiction that makes them forget everything else. Apart from the constantly increasing number of gambling addicts in the country, Australia also features some of the highest gambling losses in the world.

As a result, local authorities have been looking for a way to tackle gambling-related harm in order to minimise the negative effects that gambling, and more specifically, slot machines, could have on the residents. A national self-exclusion register is expected to be officially rolled out in the country in 2018, in order for local customers to be given the opportunity to effectively ban themselves from online gambling websites and applications.

This measure is aimed at helping the authorities protect more vulnerable members of the local community. For the time being, about 200,000 Australian players have a “high-level problem” with gambling. In comparison, up to 400,000 players are found to have difficulties dealing with a “lower level problem” with gambling.

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