Study shows prevalence of Australian ‘pokies’

Study shows prevalence of Australian ‘pokies’

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 Totally Gaming
Almost a third of Australians played on slot machines in a three-month period

Some 16 per cent of Australian adults played on slots machines in the last three months according to a new study.

Market research operator Roy Morgan Research found that 2.9m people used ‘pokies’ during the period, with 1.2m using them as often as once a week.

The study said 51 per cent of those that played in the last three months said they decide how much to spend before participating, while more than a quarter of frequent players say they use their winnings to play again (27 per cent).

“Our research into gambling trends and behaviour shows that the majority of occasional or frequent players say they decide how much to spend before participating - but most of those people playing pokies once or more a week also say they enjoy it whether they win or lose while less than half play to win,” said Angela Smith, group account director of Roy Morgan Research.

“Frequent players are more loyal to particular venues, more likely to use winnings to play again, and more likely to plan to gamble rather than go on the spur of the moment. While the 1.2m people playing once a week or more are not necessarily all problem gamblers, their attitudes may help highlight some of the potential drivers or signs of problem gambling.”

The survey was based on interviews with 2,753 people, and its release coincided with a controversial documentary that aired on the ABC TV network in Australia on Tuesday.

‘Ka-Ching: Pokie Nation’, which was produced by advertising guru Neil Lawrence before his death in July, included allegations that the gambling lobby is one of the most powerful influences in Australia and that politicians are reluctant to challenge the industry for fear of losing votes and donations.

The documentary included interviews with critics of the machines, including Dr Natasha Dow Schull, associate professor of science, technology, and society at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who noted similarities between ‘pokies’ and addictive chemicals.

Schull said: “Slot machines have been called the crack cocaine of gambling, electronic morphine.Some people have a hard time grasping that a machine could be addictive. They associate addiction with substances that are inhaled or put into the body.

“But the fact is most contemporary neuroscientists can tell you things like gambling and these process addictions are being taken as a pure form of addiction because they show us a direct window into the chemical changes happening in the brain.”

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