Retirees in biggest gamble: study

Retired people are among the biggest gamblers in Australia, with poker players experiencing the highest incidence of problem gambling, new research shows.

The study was released recently after the Federal Court ruled in favour of  Melbourne’s Crown Casino, saying its pokies were not deceptively robbing problem players, and just ahead of the Tasmanian election, in which the future of pokies is a “hot button issue”.

“The data shows that while very few Australians play poker regularly, there is a very high rate of problem gambling among those who do, as well as a high rate of financial problems in their households,” said Jennifer Baxter, manager at the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC).

The centre analysed data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to conclude that households where regular poker players lived were much more likely to experience financial problems than the average household.

The survey also revealed that compared with the general population, bingo players were substantially more likely to be female, aged 65 and over, with fewer than 10 years of schooling, were retired or not employed and not looking for work, lived alone, lived in the lowest socio-economic areas, had the lowest incomes, and drew their main source of income from welfare payments.

Findings uncovered about regular gamblers compared to the rest of the population included that they were more likely to:

  • Be aged 50 and older and retired.
  • Draw their main source of income from welfare payments.
  • Be males.
  • Have 10 years or fewer of schooling.
  • Live outside a major city.


The HILDA results indicated that in a typical month, 39 per cent of Australian adults gambled.  

“Among regular gamblers, lottery participation was most common (76 per cent). Other commonly reported activities were the regular purchase of instant scratch tickets (22 per cent) and playing of electronic gaming machines (21 per cent),” the analysis reported.

Participation in casino table gambling, bingo, private betting and poker were cited by fewer than three per cent of gamblers.

A study of the job status of regular gamblers showed that while most were in full-time employment, the next biggest group were retirees, which formed 25 per cent of this category. Just 16.3 per cent of gamblers were in part-time employment.

Do you like to have a flutter? Is problem gambling an issue in your community? Should welfare recipients’ gambling habits be monitored by the Government?

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YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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