Nearly 200,000 Australians struggle with problem gambling, an annual study of the Aussie population found. That figure represents 1.5 percent of men, and 0.8 percent of women in Australia.

Responsible gambling in Australia

Australian middle-age and senior men and women are most at risk for problem gambling, according to the annual HILDA survey, which for the first time included gambling behaviors as a subject of inquiry. (Image: RSL Pokies)

According to the latest Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, a regular assessment of socioeconomic factors affecting Australian citizens and families, gambling is particularly widespread, with men gambling more than women, and the amount of time spent gambling increasing with age.

This was the first time the study inquired about gambling behaviors as a regular part of Australian life.

About 39.1 percent of the Australian population spends money on some form of gambling at least monthly, with lottery tickets being the most common, followed by scratch off tickets, then slots and video poker machines. There are 13 casinos in the country and table games were eighth on the list. Poker was last at No. 10.

However, Australians spend more money on poker than any other form of gambling, the HILDA survey found.

More Risky with Age

The survey showed men were more likely to spend more time and money on gambling, particularly as they got older. A man 35 to 44 will spend around $100 per month, but when they are 45 to 54 the amount jumps to $140.

Women are more conservative with their cash by comparison, until they reach the age of 75. Women tend to spend $50 or less per month on gambling, from the ages of 25 to 44, but that figure also rises with age.

From ages 45 to 54, the cost of gambling habits grows to $80. For ages 65 to 74 the figure is $100, and at age 75 and older, one’s monthly gambling spend increases further to $110.

The HILDA statistics follow a February study by H2 Gambling Capital that found Australians spend more money than any other nation’s citizens on gambling. Their $990 yearly betting (on average) was 40 percent more than residents of Singapore, which was second.

Pokie Problems Down Under

The data has emboldened at least one anti-gambling group. Last week. Bad Bets, an organization committed to ridding Australia of video poker and slot machines (referred to as “pokies”), distributed flyers at a Melbourne school to parents as they were picking up their children.

The flyers featured images of a bloodied domestic abuse victim, as well as an armed robber, implying that this was the inevitable result of playing pokie machines.

Education Minister James Merlino condemned the group’s campaign as inappropriate, if not misleadingly inaccurate.