Aussies Are World’s Top Gamblers, Research Reveals

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By Athena Yenko | February 5, 2014 2:03 PM EST

Aussies are once again on top of the list of gamblers among other countries as revealed by a study from  H2 Gambling Capital (H2GC), a British consultancy. But they are found to bet more even if they lost more at gambling.

The survey said an Australian loses at gambling with $1,144 per individual. In total,  Australians lost $21.5 billion, the report said.

"Australians gamble (and lose) more than anyone else on a per-person basis, according to H2GC. The biggest chunk of this is spent on video poker machines, although tighter regulation in recent years has seen the country fall to sixth place in absolute terms."

In a report from AAP, antigambling campaigners said Aussies topped the list because they loved to waste money whether in gambling or other inconsequential things.

"Gambling is just like eucalyptus oil - it's natural," Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce Chairman Tim Costello told AAP.

"But in Australia we've allowed gambling to proliferate more than anyone else in the world."

For Monash University Researcher Dr. Charles Livingstone said the high number of gamblers in the country is proportionate to the increased concentration of poker machines compared to other countries. This had also been associated to the high number of domestic violence, crime and mental illness.

As for Independent MP Nick Xenophon, the list should be an "urgent wake-up call" for politicians to implement stricter laws regarding gambling.

"Let's not forget that, with pokies, 40 per cent of losses come from problem gamblers, with five to 10 people affected by each problem gambler," he said.

Xenophon told Herald Sun that a maximum of $1 per bet on poker machines with hourly losses limit at $120 as suggested by the 2010 Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform.

But for Public Health Association of Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Moore, challenges in the political, economical and cultural aspects hinder the government's aim to promote responsible gambling among Australians.

"State and territory governments in Australia derive an average 10 percent or more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling," he stressed.

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