Home » article » australians doing majority of gambling at poker machines

Australians Doing Majority of Gambling at Poker Machines

Publishing: June 13, 2014

Australians continue to live up to their reputation as “pokies” (poker machine) lovers, spending a sizable 60% of all money spent gambling ($AU9.8 billion) on the machines. Betting on racing came in at a distant second with 15% of all gambling revenue ($AU2.5 billion), while lotteries, sports betting, casino table games, keno, and scratch tickets rounded out the list, in order from most wagered on, to least.

If Japan is known for its pachinko parlors, Aussies are quickly becoming known for their love of pokies. Australia has nearly 200,000 such video poker machines, accounting for 2.1% of all gambling machines in the world, and 20% of all pokies in the world. On a per capita basis, Australia has about 5 times as many gaming machines as the United States. Over half of those machines are found in New South Wales alone.

The proliferation of pokies in betting is thanks to the ease of getting licenses to operate those machines. There are over 4,000 such licensed establishments across Australia, ranging from expected places such as bars, clubs, and sports facilities, to rather unexpected ones like hairdressers and car washes.

It’s not surprising to see then why nearly 40% of Australian adults play the pokies, and nearly 40% of them are considered to be addicted to the machines or at risk of becoming so. Given their relatively low payout of slightly under 91%, it’s also not surprising that they lose an average of $AU400 yearly on the machines, tempted by the lure of $AU10,000 jackpots. In comparison, the entire yearly gambling expenses of the average Briton is less than the pokies expenses of Australians.

Also unlike many other forms of gambling, pokies are particularly appealing to women, who play them in far greater numbers than any other form of gambling. The rise of pokies in Australia has also coincided with a rise in the number of problem female gamblers who used to make up just 14% of all problem gamblers, but now account for more than 50%.

While the love for pokies isn’t necessarily a good thing for some of the more ardent players (or for some of the competing industries with higher payout rates, that are struggling to draw interest from Australians), it is a good thing for the local governments, who generate a good deal of their revenue from taxes on the machines.