Gambling addicts prefer poker machines to online or sports betting
By Miles Kemp
TELL US: Is it time to get rid of pokies?
FOUR out of every five problem gamblers in South Australia are addicted to pokies – despite the growth of online and sports betting.
A profile of problem gamblers treated by the Flinders University School of Medicine shows less than 1 per cent said they had a problem gambling online but 83.9 per cent admitted to poker machine addiction.
Flinders University Professor of Psychiatry Malcolm Battersby said experts did not know why a boom in sports betting and online gambling had not yet translated to an increase in problem gamblers.
In recent months, anti-gambling advocates have switched their focus to newer forms of gambling, especially the promotion of betting odds during AFL games.
They have criticised the use of gambling advertisements without legal warnings at AAMI Stadium, incorporation of betting odds during the Wimbledon championship on Channel Seven, AFL coverage on Seven and rugby league coverage on Channel Nine.
Professor Battersby said the latest figures showed that the Flinders University service treated around 800 problem gamblers in 2010-11.
They reported problems with TAB gambling (10.8 per cent), casino games (3 per cent), Keno (1.1 per cent) and lotteries, private gambling and card games (less than 1 per cent). “People have said for a long, long time: `Look out, here comes a tsunami of people with problem gambling’ because of the new forms of gambling and we have not seen that yet,” he said.
“One researcher has evidence that while problem gambling in the newer forms of gambling is increasing, we are yet to see the increase in people seeking help.
“We don’t know why is the short answer. But like all young people, perhaps those who are taking up the new forms of gambling just don’t seek help.
“Around 20,000 people have a gambling problem in total but only 2000-3000 come for help.”
Professor Battersby said researchers still expected new forms of gambling would create problems. “The average time it takes for people to come to our service for pokie gambling is five to seven years, usually when they hit rock bottom or have some major crisis in their life,” he said.
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