Since the very dawn of time, humans have always been attracted to gambling. Sports events, horse racing, card games and, the most recently, online casinos have all contributed to the world’s craze around this very popular, and, one might think, easy way to earn some extra money – gambling. But one nation allegedly managed to out-gamble the whole world and put gambling on a whole new level: Australia. Australia is known as the land down under, a continent of its own, a paradise for some, and, of course, home to the most dedicated gamblers in human history. The numbers state the obvious: there is no other developed country with the same number of slot machines per person. It is estimated that Australia possesses over 200,000 electronic poker machines, or, as they call them – “pokies.” But is it true that Australians are true “gambling junkies?”
For starters, let’s all recall one of Australia’s national holidays – Anzac Day. If you are not familiar with Australian culture, on April 25 all Australians are allowed to play a special game called Two-up. The game consists of throwing two coins in the air and betting on whether the coins will fall with both heads up, both tails up or with each showing a different side. On this particular day, all the pubs and bars are filled with gambling junkies trying to test their luck, mostly because this is the single day of the year when this kind of gambling activity is legally permitted. And we all know about the attractiveness of the forbidden fruit.
We can’t say with 100% certainty whether this annual tradition predetermined the popularity of gambling among Australians, but we can say for sure – this nation is very enthusiastic when it comes to betting and taking chances.
The amount of money lost on betting in Australia exceeds all the assumptions: it is calculated that Australians lost around $1000 per person in 2018, while the runner-up Singapore, and the third place holder, Ireland – only about $500-$600 each. To add fuel to the fire, Aussies spend over $18 billion per annum on all forms of gambling, or $1500 per capita. This sum is much higher than in other countries; for instance, New Zealanders spend around $495 per capita on gambling, Canadians – $393 and Americans – $325 per capita. If we take the pokies statistics solely, then the numbers will be slightly more enthusiastic. Total electronic gaming machine expenditure in Australia constitutes up to $12.136 billion in 2016-2017, and the numbers tend to decrease.
It might seem too excessive for some people to bet huge sums of money on something very unpredictable, but on a global scale, Australians bring home the biggest amounts of jackpots per person. In addition, let us take the country’s GDP per capita and compare it to the losses due to gambling – we will be able to clearly see how insignificant the overall losses are.
Gender statistics are subject to contemplation when talking about Australian gambling. It is considered that men tend to be more attracted to live betting, horse racing and sports betting. The prevailing majority of these betters are male inhabitants of Australian shores. But when it comes to pokies and online casinos, there is no apparent separation between gender and age groups that represent people who like to bet and spend more than others. Women are as much affected by the gambling craze as men.
The popularity of this kind of gambling is easy to explain. While in horse racing and sports events people have to know the particularities of all the parties included in the event in order to have higher stakes at winning (e.g the performance of horses, the winning statistics of a sports team and its opponents), in online gambling and in pokies, the rules are much simpler; that is why a much wider range and quantity of people are interested in this kind of entertainment. The simplicity of the game makes it really accessible and affordable for an average Australian citizen, with what people call “a slots machine at every corner” in some Australian states.
While for some Aussies habitual pokies playing has become quite a problem, there is no straight evidence that Australians suffer from some kind of gambling addiction more than others. As mentioned before, people enjoy their gambling traditions, which have had historical roots for centuries and there are no real reasons for concern. Australia has been ranked in the top of the most livable countries for years and still can boast of its leading positions. According to polls and statistics, this nation is one of the happiest in the world and there is no reason to doubt that fact and suppose that a slight problem of excessive gambling among a minority of Australian population can change the current situation.
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