Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Study on impact of gambling on young Australians

The impact of the internet and mobile telephones on the gambling habits of young Australians will be part of a new research project, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, announced today.

“We know that early exposure to gambling places young people at higher risk of long-term problem gambling, however, we are unclear about the best ways to intervene in or prevent this behaviour in young adults,” she said.

“New technology developments such as the internet and mobile phones provide new or potentially new distribution channels for gambling by young people. Sports bars and events-based wagering are increasingly being targeted at young people as well.

“With little known about young Australian’s gambling habits or the risk factors that may lead to problem gambling it is vital that we look at ways to help prevent problem gambling among young people before it continues into adulthood.”

Senator Patterson announced at the end of Youth Week that $175,000 would be spent on the new research project to gain a better and more accurate picture of problem youth gambling.

A 1999 Productivity Commission Report into Australia’s Gambling Industries found that around 330,000 Australians have a significant gambling problem. Around 26 per cent of these 330,000 problem gamblers were under the age of 25.

Senator Patterson said: “These concerning figures make it even more important to be able to track the effect of traditional and new forms of gambling on young people.”

One of the main recommendations of the recently completed Measurement of Prevalence of Youth Problem Gambling in Australia: Report on Review of Literature is that further research needs to be undertaken on youth gambling that will provide more quality and in-depth data.

Senator Patterson said: “This funding will allow my Department to commission research on the best ways to conduct a long-term study that will help us understand youth gambling behaviour patterns and work out ways to reduce the problem.

“The study will also look at the best ways to collect and collate information, how to measure the pathways into, and the occurrence of youth gambling, and how to establish effective assessment tools and criteria for use in studies over a long period of time.

“There are currently a number of different ways and criteria used for collecting statistics and information on youth gambling. These need to be streamlined to be able to find a better and more accurate picture of problem youth gambling.

“In keeping with its commitment to address the negative social impacts of problem gambling, the Australian Government will work together with the community to support our youth and find answers on this important issue.”

A link to the report can be found on the FaCS website.