Analysis reveals high rate of gambling-related problems among poker players in Australia

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Poker cards and chips. Wikimedia Commons/History Channel

A new analysis shows that about 132,000 Australians regularly gamble on poker, with almost half of them experiencing gambling-related issues. It was also found that a majority of poker players are employed men aged under 50.

The findings are according to a new analysis by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC), part of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. AGRC manager Dr Jennifer Baxter said that poker is the least popular gambling activity among regular gamblers.

About $228 million is spent on poker over the year. The amount can be equivalent to $1,758 per player.

But gambling-related issues looked inevitable. “The data shows that while very few Australians play poker regularly there is a very high rate of problem gambling among those that do, as well as a high rate of financial problems in their households,” Baxter explained.

The AGRC added that poker, in comparison with other activities, has the greatest proportion of regular players (46 percent of players) with one or more gambling-related problems, including the highest proportion with moderate to severe problems (39 percent of players). AGRC Lead researcher Dr Andrew Armstrong said that well over a third of poker players felt they could have a gambling problem.

Approximately half or 46 percent of regular players are said to have faced one or more gambling-related problems. About 39 percent of regular poker players or 51,000 adults claim to have moderate to severe gambling issues.

Households in which some members play poker regularly are much more likely to face financial problems than the average Australian household.  It has been found that well over a third of households with a poker player have members who reportedly asked friends or family members for financial assistance during the year. One in five have had household members who reported that they could not pay rent or mortgage on time.

“Over a third bet more than they could afford to lose and tried to win back the money they had lost on another day, while around a quarter had been told that they had a gambling problem and had caused financial problems for themselves or their households,” Armstrong said in a media release. Other issues have been noted aside from financial problems.

Armstrong said that gambling has also resulted in mental and physical health problems for some poker players. The rates are reportedly higher compared to those for any other gambling activity.