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Draft Report on Australia's Gambling Industries


TREASURER
NO.041 PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION DRAFT REPORT ON AUSTRALIA’S GAMBLING INDUSTRIES

The Productivity Commission today released its draft report on Australia’s gambling industries.

This report is the first of its kind in Australia. The report’s findings on the social impacts of gambling are important and should be carefully considered by all levels of government

The Commission has found that most Australians participate in gambling in some form and many gamble regularly. It finds that 330 000 Australians (2.3 percent of adults, 15 percent of regular (non-lottery) gamblers) could be considered ‘problem gamblers’, with 140 000 experiencing severe problems.

Given that at least five people are affected for every problem gambler, this means a substantial number of Australians are affected by the problems of gambling. Problem gamblers account for over $3 billion in losses annually — one-third of the gambling industries’ market. They lose nearly $12 000 per year, compared with $625 for other gamblers.

Overall, the Commission found that, whilst the gambling industries produce little net gain in jobs or GDP, the enjoyment most Australians derive from gambling results in net benefits. The Commission considers that policy should be directed at reducing the costs of problem gambling.

The Commission has made some interesting observations on consumer education, particularly in the matter of informing players about the odds of winning.

The Commission has addressed the issue of Internet gambling. The Federal Government will examine the implications of the Commission’s report for federal regulation, including the regulation of gambling availability on the Internet. The value of a public inquiry was demonstrated by the Commission’s finding that community consultation has been deficient in many policy decisions on gambling.

The Commission’s survey found that three quarters of those surveyed believed that gambling does more harm than good, and 92% of people do not want to see an increase in gaming machines. This is a draft report, which will be finalised following a further round of consultations, including public hearings and submissions from interested parties. The Government will consider its response after the final report is received on 26 November 1999.

Background

The Government commissioned the inquiry in response to concerns within the community about the effects of the gambling industries in Australia, and because there was limited information on the performance of the gambling industries and their economic and community impacts in Australia.

The inquiry is being undertaken by the Chairman of the Commission, Gary Banks, and an Associate Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald, who was President of the Australian Council of Social Services from 1993 to 1997 and has held senior honorary positions with Australian Catholic Relief, Job Futures and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

The terms of reference asked the Commission to report on the nature and definition of gambling activities, the participation profile of gambling, the various economic and social impacts of gambling, the effects of regulatory structures governing the gambling industries, the implications of new technologies, the impact of gambling on governments’ budgets and the adequacy of ABS statistics on gambling.

People who want to register their interest in the inquiry or obtain a copy of the draft report can find details on the Commission’s website (http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiry/gambling/) or apply directly to the Commission. For more information contact Ralph Lattimore, Assistant Commissioner (Productivity Commission, Canberra) on (02) 6240 3242. 19 July 1999

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