Gambling in Australia: understanding social and economic outcomes in relation to problem gambling risk

Stream: Financial inclusion
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 11.30 am – 12.30 pm


Gambling is a high profile social policy issue in Australia. Most research on gambling is based upon cross sectional survey data. In Australia, this means state/territory based gambling prevalence surveys that take a snapshot of gambling risk prevalence rates at a particular point in time. The paucity of large-scale longitudinal gambling data means that there is a limited understanding of the trajectory of at-risk gamblers and the economic, social and health outcomes of those who gamble.

This paper attempts to address this using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. This large Australian longitudinal household survey included gambling questions for the first time in 2015 (Wave 15). This paper explores a range of economic variables (household income, employment, qualification, financial hardship, risk and stress) and select social variables (life satisfaction, psychological distress, alcohol intake and smoking) from multiple HILDA waves in respect to problem gambling risk.

The findings suggest that those people in society that experience any level of gambling problems are also likely to be experiencing a range of other social and economic challenges over the course of many years. The analysis suggests that gambling risk is exponentially associated with the probability of experiencing significant financial hardship, psychological distress, low levels of life satisfaction, consuming harmful levels of alcohol, smoking and the probability of taking above average financial risks.


Marisa Paterson (Presenter), Australian National University
Dr Marisa Paterson is the Director of the Centre for Gambling Research at the Australian National University. She holds a PhD in Anthropology, a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development and Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Anthropology). Marisa specialises in mixed methods research, with a particular research focus on gambling policy and regulation, social and Indigenous issues, social service delivery and program development.

Matthew Taylor, Australian National Universtiy
Matthew Taylor is a Senior Research Specialist at the ANU Centre for Social Research & Methods.

Matthew Gray, Australian National University
Professor Matthew Gray is Director of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. Previous positions include Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Director of Research for the College of Arts and Social Sciences and Deputy Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (2005–2010). He has published research on a wide range of social and economic policy issues including those related to Indigenous Australians. He has particular expertise in work and family issues, labour economics, social capital and social inclusion, measuring wellbeing, the economic consequences of divorce, child support, and social and economic policy development.