Categorized | National News

Australian Report: 1 in 10 Suicidal Over Gambling Addiction

Key findings from a 1999 Australian report on that country’s gaming industry has revealed that 80 per cent of their residents who gambled the year before spent nearly $11 billion, more than 290,000 of their residents were “problem gamblers” and that one in 10 Australians surveyed said they have contemplated suicide due to their gambling addiction.

On Sunday, members of the Free National Movement (FNM) provided copies of the report to members of the media as they further pushed their message that Bahamians should vote “No” in the upcoming gambling referendum.

The 61-page report noted that during that time, gambling was a big and rapidly growing business in Australia, with the industries accounting for an estimated 1.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing over 100,000 people in more than 7,000 businesses throughout that country.

With gambling widely known to be an addictive pastime, the report said around 130,000 Australians (about one per cent of the adult population) were estimated to have severe problems with their gambling and a further 160,000 adults were estimated to have moderate problems, which “may not require treatment but warrant policy concern.”

“Taken together, ‘problem gamblers’ represent just over 290,000 people or 2.1
per cent of Australian adults,” it added. “Problem gamblers comprise 15 per cent of regular (non-lottery) gamblers and account for about $3.5 billion in expenditure annually – about one-third of the gambling industries’ market.

“They lose on average around $12,000 each per year, compared with just under $650 for other gamblers. The prevalence of problem gambling is related to the degree of accessibility of
gambling, particularly gaming machines.”

Additionally, the report noted that the costs include financial and emotional impacts on the gamblers and on others, with on average at least five other people affected to varying degrees.

“For example, one in 10 said they have contemplated suicide due to gambling and nearly half of those in counseling reported losing time from work or study in the past year due to gambling,” the Australian report said.

“The adverse impacts on individuals and the community help explain the ambivalence of most Australians about the gambling industries, despite their widespread involvement. Around 70 per cent of people surveyed believed that gambling did more harm than good and 92 per cent did not want to see further expansion of gaming machines.”

The report concluded that counseling services for problem gamblers served an essential role, but also noted a lack of monitoring and evaluation of different approaches, and funding
arrangements in some jurisdictions were too short term.

The report suggested at the time that policy approaches for the gambling industries be directed at reducing the costs of problem gambling — through harm minimisation and prevention measures
— while retaining as much of the benefit to recreational gamblers as possible.

“The main source of national benefit from the liberalisation of gambling has been the consumer gains from access to a service that gives people enjoyment,” the report read. “Net gains in jobs and economic activity are small when account is taken of the impact on other industries of the diversion of consumer spending to gambling.

“The principle rationales for regulating the gambling industries any differently than other industries relate to promoting consumer protection, minimising the potential for criminal and unethical activity and reducing the risks and costs of problem gambling.”

The Bahamas is set hold an opinion poll (referendum) on whether or not the government should legalise gambling on Monday December 3.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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