A new report by the Economist says that Australians gamble more and lose more than any other country in the World.
According to the report Australians top the list with losses of $1144 per person
“Gambling is just like eucalyptus oil – it’s natural,” said Tim Costello, chairman of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce.
The biggest reason for the losses say anti-gambling campaigners are poker machines, which they say Australia has the highest concentration of poker machines in the world.
With the biggest clusters being in disadvantaged areas along the east coast, fuelling domestic violence, crime and mental illness, campaigners claim.
British consultancy firm H2 Gambling Capital said that Australians on average lose about $520 on non-casino based poker machines last year.
The independent senator Nick Xenophon said the figures were an “urgent wake-up call” for politicians.
“Let’s not forget that, with pokies, 40% of losses come from problem gamblers, with five to 10 people affected by each problem gambler,” he said.
Xenophon is renewing his push for maximum $1 bets on poker machines with hourly losses capped at $120, in line with recommendations of the 2010 parliamentary joint select committee on gambling reform.
“State and territory governments in Australia derive an average 10% or more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling,” he said.
Although Australia had the biggest gambling losses per resident, America had the biggest loss of any nation at $136bn. Australians lost a total $21.5bn, the report said.