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Gambling, Government Federal

Explosion in sports betting puts a generation at risk – Up to 1 in 5 young sports bettors now have a gambling problem

Alliance for Gambling Reform 3 mins read

The number of people betting on sports has exploded, doubling in just five years with more than one third of all spending on sports betting now coming from people with a gambling problem, according to new research.

More than a quarter of all men aged 18-24 and a third of men aged 25-34 now bet on sport. Young men are most at risk of falling into problem gambling – with close to 1 in 5 (17.5%) 18-24 year-olds who bet on sports, already defined as having a gambling problem.

The new insights come from interviews with approximately 16,000 Australians conducted by Roy Morgan in the 12 months to March 2024, based on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) framework, now tracked continuously in the Roy Morgan Single Source Survey, representing the largest continuous problem gambling research program in Australia.

The research reveals that almost a million Australians (881,000) who sports bet are now problem or moderate Risk gamblers, classified according the PGSI

It also showed that for some sports betting companies ‘problem gamblers’ make up almost 20% of their entire customer base.

“These are huge numbers and they highlight how a predatory online gambling industry is ensnaring a whole new generation into gambling,” Alliance for Gambling Reform Interim CEO, Martin Thomas said.
“We know that last year there were over a million gambling ads bombarding our screens. We have to stop this. The Federal Government must move to ban all gambling advertising and adopt all 31 recommendations of the parliamentary report into online gambling.”

The government received the parliamentary report, chaired by Labor MP, Peta Murphy, almost 12 months ago and is still yet to deliver its response. A key recommendation in the report was a moderate and reasonable 3-year, phased-in ban on all gambling advertising.

The research shows:

  • In the 12 months to March 2024, 3.26 million Australians bet on sports. This is over double the number of Australians who sports bet 5 years ago from 7% (April 2019 – March 2020) to 15.5% (April 2023 to March 2024).

  • In the 12 months to March 2024, 1 in 10 (10%) Australian Sports Bettors are classified Problem Gamblers (337,000 people). A further 17% (544,000 people) classified as Moderate risk.

  • More than a third (34%) of the total dollars spent on Sport Betting in Australia comes from Problem Gamblers. This is despite Problem Gamblers representing only 10% of the player base.

Australians lose over $25 billion each year to gambling, the highest per capita spend in the world.

Mr Thomas said gambling harm was a massive public health issue, linked to poor physical and mental health, poverty and homelessness, criminal activity, family violence, and suicide.

“We are extremely concerned about the rapidly increasing harms caused by online gambling, and by the massive advertising of online gambling through a range of media including digital/social media channels,” Mr Thomas said.   

Studies show that 7 in 10 Australians believe there are too many betting advertisements, and that gambling advertising on television should be banned; and parents in particular are concerned about their children’s vulnerability to gambling advertising.

“The parliamentary inquiry found that the “inescapable torrent” of gambling advertising is normalising online gambling and its links with sport, grooming children and young people to gamble, and encouraging riskier behaviour,” Mr Thomas said.

Martin Thomas is available for interview on 0477 340 704

For information on the Roy Morgan PGSI tracking program contact Julian McCrannon (03) 9224 5309

Key Facts:

Among the biggest clubs that were awarding themselves the largest number of grants were:

  • Amstel Golf Club in Cranbourne - $6.7m
  • Veneto Club in Bulleen - $4.8m
  • Bendigo Stadium – $4.6m
  • Morwell Bowling Club - $4.1m
  • Frankston RSL - $4m
  • Geelong Combined Leagues Club - $3.7m
  • Rosebud Country Club - $3.5m
  • Rosebud RSL - $3.3m
  • Mulgrave Country Club - $3.2m
  • Kooringal Golf Club in Altona - $2.8m

About us:

The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling.

Contact details:

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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