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A two-year gambling study has revealed more Australians than ever are reaching for their phone to have a punt, with the number of online gamblers doubling in the past decade.

The Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia surveyed more than 15,000 Australians and found 17.5 per cent of adults had gambled online in 2019, up from 8.1 per cent in 2010.

The study, funded by Gambling Research Australia, found that overall gambling participation decreased from 64.3 per cent in 2010, to 56.9 per cent in 2019.

Professor Nerilee Hing, from CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory said Australia’s most popular forms of online gambling were lotteries (10.1 per cent of adults), race betting (5.9 per cent) and sports betting (5.8 per cent).

“This growth in online gambling has been driven by faster internet speeds, the convenience of betting on smartphone apps, extensive advertising and inducements, and new betting options like multi-bets,” Professor Hing said.

“New online activities have also been introduced, including e-sports, fantasy sports, skin gambling, and loot boxes.”

The study found the average online gambler was likely to be a young male, better educated than the average Australian, in a de facto relationship, and to gamble across multiple activities.

The Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments are currently implementing the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering (the National Framework).

The intent of the National Framework is to bring Australian consumer protection measures up to date, to ensure they reflect best practice nationally, and are consistent across jurisdictions. The National Framework consists of 10 consumer protection measures that aim to reduce gambling harm.

This was also the first national study to examine the negative consequences of gambling for gamblers, their family and friends.

Overall, 9.1 per cent of Australian adults experienced some level of harm from their own gambling and 6.0 per cent from another person’s gambling. Online gamblers were twice as likely as land-based only gamblers to experience harm.

The findings from this study will further inform online gambling policy and consumer protection measures across Australia.

Gambling Research Australia is a national gambling research partnership between Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, and chaired by the NSW Government. GRA funds projects of national significance and contributed more than $1 million towards the Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia.

CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory is a research initiative to support understanding of games of chance, through experiment, simulation, and observation.

Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia researchers included CQUniversity team members Dr Alex Russell, Professor Matthew Rockloff, Professor Matthew Browne, Nancy Greer and Vijay Rawat, International researcher Dr Anne Salonen (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland), Associate Professor Nicki Dowling and Dr Stephanie Merkouris (Deakin University), Dr Matthew Stevens (Charles Darwin University), Associate Professor Daniel King (Flinders University), and Linda Woo (former Executive Director of Policy and Projects, Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General).

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