It is well known that Australians are by far the world's biggest losers when it comes to gambling losses per capita.
Australians lost nearly $25 billion in 2017-18, a five per cent increase from the previous year.
Whilst pokies losses still outweigh the losses from sports and race betting, those sports and race betting losses have been increasing.
Sports betting losses increased by 16.3 per cent and race betting losses increased by 7.1 per cent in 2017-18, fuelled by heavy advertising and the ease and growth of online betting.
I am critical of the proliferation of online gambling which has exploded during the pandemic and I continue to push for federal reform to protect people experiencing gambling harm.
The pandemic crisis has only served to further exacerbate the scourge of gambling addiction at a time of heightened stress, anxiety and depression for vulnerable Australians – all stressors for people experiencing gambling harm.
Several online bookies reported large revenue increases during the three months from April to the end of June 2020 as well as an increase in share prices since the global outbreak of COVID-19.
In March 2020 I moved a motion and wrote to the Government calling for the Government to introduce a moratorium on gambling ads during the pandemic crisis to protect vulnerable and people experiencing gambling harm and to introduce legislation to ban the use of credit cards to pay for online bets as a matter of urgency.
The Government failed to act and the Government’s failure to act has had terrible consequences.
Online gamblers are blowing more money during the pandemic with research from the Australian Gambling Research Centre showing men aged 18 to 34 made up 79 per cent of new online gambling account holders with their median monthly spend increasing from $687 to $1,075.
Other key findings include even with limited access to venues, overall, participants gambled more often during Covid-19 with the proportion who gambled 4 or more times a week increased from 23% to 32% and 79% of participants were classed as at risk or already experiencing gambling-related harm.
This is an area that I will continue to lobby Government for change.