Spotlighting Adelaide in Australia’s destructive gambling addiction

The ratio of poker machines to people is almost double in Adelaide’s poorest councils than the city’s most well-off areas, a PHACTORY investigation has found.

The LGAs (local government areas) of Playford, Salisbury, Port Adelaide Enfield and Charles Sturt, average around 120 people per EGM (electronic gaming machine), while Burnside, the Adelaide Hills, Mitcham and Unley councils average over 210 people per machine.

The research exposes how accessible gambling is to members of the most vulnerable communities.

Coincidentally, Adelaide’s poorest councils gambled away seven times more than the city’s most well-off councils.

People living in the lower socio-economic councils lost $238 million through poker machines last financial year, while $34 million was lost from the richest councils, a study by the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies found.

There exists a median wage gap of around $5,000 between the four most disadvantaged and advantaged councils, asking further questions regarding poker machine locations.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS (LGAs) FOUR MOST DISADVANTAGED FOUR MOST ADVANTAGED
SEIFA 2011 RANKING (0 = LOWEST | 70 = HIGHEST) 5 | 15 | 18 | 33 66 | 68 | 69 | 70
AVERAGE ADULTS PER EGM 122 213
PUBLIC GAMING LOSSES (LFY) $238 MILLION $34 MILLION
CONTRIBUTION TO SA GOVT TOTAL GAMBLING TAX REVENUE (LFY) 40% <1%
SA GOVT TOTAL GAMBLING TAX REVENUE (LFY)

$283 MILLION

Table 1: Research gathered by PHACTORY | Data sourced from the ABS (2011), .id (2015), South Australian Centre of Economic Studies (2016) and SA Consumer and Business Services (2016)


University of South Australia sociology lecturer and problem gaming researcher, Sophie Diamandi, believes gambling targets the most vulnerable communities.

“Most people gamble for a quick financial fix, if they’re unhappy, feel socially isolated, have low self-esteem or have recently experienced significant changes in their life,” she said.

“People are often at their most vulnerable during this time.”

Governments may consider implementing deeper measures to protect problem gamblers, such as removing ATMs and cash-out services from gaming venues and limiting maximum losses.

Then again, the State Government reels in $280 million per year in statewide gaming tax liability; almost 40 percent comes from Adelaide’s four most disadvantaged councils.

Meanwhile, the most well-off councils contribute less than one percent in gaming tax.


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Gambling targets people from the most vulnerable and low socioeconomic areas | Image: Michael Coghlan

The issue is drawing more concern after the SA Government pulled funding from its gambling therapy centre at the end of last year.

As of December 2016, funding from the Statewide Gambling Therapy Service (SGTS) at Flinders Medical Centre was instead awarded to private psychology provider, PsychMed.

The SGTS 2015-2016 annual report found more than 50 percent of its clients were unemployed.

Adelaide is just one case study spotlighting problem gambling in Australia.

Data from H2 Gambling Capital, a London based industry researcher, obtained by Fairfax Media in 2015, shows Australians lose more money through gambling than every other developed country.


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Australia loses more per capita than any other developed country | Image: The Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Australia’s states and territories pocket almost $6 billion a year from gambling taxes.

These economic benefits makes social and moral efforts towards solving problem gambling nearly impossible.

Arguing that the revenue is ‘spent on public services such as schools and hospitals’, is an ignorant way to celebrate an Australian addiction, which destroys many families and lives.


Featured Image: Michael Coghlan


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