Nearly three quarters of those surveyed in a new poll support gambling pre-commitment rules, a policy the Australian government plans to introduce by 2014 but which has attracted the ire of the clubs industry.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, whose vote Prime Minister Julia Gillard needs to retain power, has said he will withdraw his support if the government does not force poker machine players betting more than $1 per game to predetermine how much they are prepared to lose before starting gambling.
The clubs industry has launched a major advertising campaign fighting the proposal and has branded the idea ‘un-Australian’.
In a telephone survey of 1,213 people conducted by the Australian National University, 74% of respondents said they agreed with the statement, “People should be limited to spending an amount they nominate before they start gambling.”
However, 42% also said they agreed with the statement “The government has no right to restrict a person’s gambling.”
Of those who gambled four days or more per month, 67% agreed that people should be limited to spending an amount they nominate before they start gambling.
“We were somewhat surprised that even frequent gamblers were quite supportive of the concept of people being limited to an amount they nominate before they start gambling,” said Dr Tanya Davidson from the Centre for Gambling Research at ANU, which helped conduct the poll.
The report also found that:
- 28% of the adult population do not gamble at all
- 48% had gambled on an activity other than lotteries or scratchies, such as poker machines, horse or greyhound races or at a casino.
- Young men were the most likely to gamble on something other than lotteries or scratchies.
- 84% agreed with the statement “There are too many opportunities for gambling nowadays”
- 70% thought gambling in Australia should be more tightly controlled.
- 46% thought gambling activities are advertised responsibly
- 39% said they would not know where to get help if they or a family member had a gambling problem.
The survey, which has been conducted quarterly since 2008, also asked respondents more general questions about the direction Australia was heading in.
One-fifth of respondents nominated immigration as the most important problem facing Australia today, up 8% on an ANU poll conducted in December last year.
Asylum seekers at Villawood detention centre were protesting at the time the 2011 poll was conducted.
The economy was the second most-mentioned issue nominated as Australia’s most important problem and the environment third.
“A total of 63 per cent were either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the direction the country is headed, with just 27 per cent dissatisfied. This is almost exactly the same as the proportion recorded in the December 2010,” the report said.