|New push to limit
pokie bets as Economist report puts Australian yearly gambling losses at $1144
Australians love a
punt and new research shows we wager more, and lose more, than any other
country in the world, according to a report published in the Economist.
It puts Australian gambling losses at about $1144 a resident.
But Australians are only the
world's biggest punters because they have the most opportunity to fritter cash
away, anti-gambling campaigners say.
"Gambling is just like eucalyptus
oil it's natural," said Tim Costello, chairman of the Australian
Churches Gambling Taskforce.
"But in Australia we've allowed gambling
to proliferate more than anyone else in the world."
Monash University gambling researcher Dr Charles
Livingstone says Australia has the highest concentration of poker machines in
The biggest clusters are in disadvantaged areas along the
east coast, fuelling domestic violence, crime and mental illness, he said.
The average Aussie lost about $520 on non-casino pokie (meaning poking
your coins in) machines last year, the report by the British consultancy firm
H2 Gambling Capital said.
The independent senator Nick Xenophon said
the figures were an "urgent wake-up call" for politicians.
forget that, with pokies, 40% of losses come from problem gamblers, with five
to 10 people affected by each problem gambler," he said.
renewing his push for maximum $1 bets on poker machines with hourly losses
capped at $120, in line with recommendations of the 2010 parliamentary joint
select committee on gambling reform.
There should also be more funding
to rehabilitate problem gamblers and a clamp-down on online and sports betting,
But Public Health Association of Australias chief
executive officer, Michael Moore, said there were significant political,
economic and cultural obstacles to promoting responsible gambling.
"State and territory governments in Australia derive an average 10% or
more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling," he said.
Although Australia had the biggest gambling losses per resident,
America had the biggest loss of any nation at $136bn. Australians lost a total
$21.5bn, the report said.