Problem gambling not such a problem says ClubsACT

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CLUBSACT says yesterday’s announcement from the Australian National University’s (ANU), Tanya Davidson, about gambling in the ACT is sensationalist and misrepresents the University’s own work.

“The ANU press release, issued yesterday, seeks to generate headlines by claiming problem gamblers account for 44% of ACT gambling revenue,” said ClubsACT Chief Executive, Gwyn Rees.

:However, the details in the ANU’s own report shows the real figure is less than 12%.

“ACT has the lowest prevalence of ‘problem’ gambling in the country and the proof is in this report. There is a lot to welcome about this latest ANU study and it’s a shame this has been lost in the authors’ attempt to grab a headline.

“Australian’s expect their universities to find and explain the facts, rather than twist them and pursue an agenda in the media.

“Today’s press release from the ANU combined ‘at risk’ gamblers with ‘problem gamblers’ to increase the total number of ‘gambling problems’ in the ACT. Yet most ‘at risk’ gamblers suffer few or no gambling harms at all with very few going on to become ‘problem’ gamblers.

“The real story in this new research is that only 0.4% of the adult population in the ACT are problem gamblers (some 1,300 people).

“It reveals gambling expenditure in the ACT has fallen 20% in 5 years and the number of poker machines operating on gaming floors in the ACT has reduced by 8% over the last 12 months.

“If ANU is serious about problem gambling, they should be contributing to the debate about giving poker machines to Canberra Casino. That would see the number of problem gamblers rise considerably, so why haven’t they referenced ANU researcher Francis Markham’s work?

“ANU increased the moderate risk and problem gambling sub-type in their original media statement by ‘rounding-up’ figures to 2%, when in their report it was 1.5%.

“The issue here is that the Canadian creators of the problem gambling survey state that the subtypes of gamblers should not be combined because this cannot be empirically supported. Not only has the ANU combined the subtypes, they have also rounded up the figures which was a deliberate attempt to mislead the community about the extent of problem gambling.

“The level of problem gambling in the ACT, as measured by the widely used Problem Gambling Severity Index is 0.4% (0.5% in 2009), which compares to 0.8% in New South Wales, 0.5% in Queensland, 0.6% in South Australia and 1.0% in Victoria.”

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