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Gambling can be a lot of fun. After all, you could win real money if you’re lucky enough. Many people play casino games, bet on sports and buy lottery tickets hoping to make a profit. Even though the odds are against them, this doesn’t put too many people off. This is especially true for Australians. In this article, we’ll look at the gambling culture in Australia and why Aussies love risking their money so much.
Australia’s Love of Gambling
It’s no big secret that Aussies are very fond of gambling. There are various statistics that show just how much people in the country enjoy it. For example, roughly 35% of Australian adults spend money on gambling in a typical month. Around 80% practice some form of gambling in a year, which is the highest figure in the world. There’s also the fact that Australians have the highest per capita losses in the world. Even though an average person’s losses are quite high, the love affair with gambling continues.
The country’s gambling industry is very large indeed. It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising. The figure for 2012, for example, was $287 million. This works out at just over $11 per capita. As it works out, everyone in Australia sees over ten dollars worth of gambling adverts every year.
We can’t mention pokies. These are a key part of the Australian gambling industry. People in other countries refer to them as ‘slots’ or ‘slot machines’, but in Australia they’re pokies. These are very common throughout the country. So common that Australia has more of them than anywhere else in the world; 200,000 to be precise. This is roughly a fifth of all the slot machines in the world. What’s more, is that most of the pokies aren’t even in proper casinos. A lot of them are in places such as hotels, pubs, and clubs.
There are online pokies of course, but these are nowhere near as big as physical pokie machines. While many Aussies love playing casino games on their computers and mobile devices, physical ones will always be popular. Digital ones are more accessible, but nothing quite beats the experience of playing a real-life game.
For most people in Australia, the fun, thrilling element of gambling is what stands out the most. They find it exciting to risk their money and potentially make a profit. All forms of gambling are unpredictable and that’s what makes them so appealing.
Gambling in Australia and the Law
Australia is one of many countries where gambling activities are completely legal. Whether you’re gambling at a brick-and-mortar venue or online, you’re not breaking any laws. So long as you’re 18 or older, you can visit any establishment and gamble. You can also join any gambling website and spend money there.
It’s worth pointing out that the law forbids gambling sites from operating in Australia. So long as you join a site whose base is in another country, there won’t be any problems. There’s a huge number of online casinos and sportsbooks that operate in other countries and accept Aussies.
As for taxes, gambling has nothing to do with them. If you win money from gambling in Australia, the money is yours to keep in full. The government doesn’t tax winnings because it doesn’t consider gambling to be a profession. It also sees the winnings as something you’ve obtained through luck not skill. The government’s preference has been to tax gambling operators instead. This is how it’s been for ages and this is how it will probably continue.
Throughout history, the Australian government hasn’t been strict on gambling. It’s never tried to interfere with gambling and prevent people from doing it. Instead, it’s allowed people to spend their money however they want to.
Australian Culture and Gambling
Countries and places around the world have all sorts of approaches to gambling. In some nations, especially religious ones, the general attitude towards gambling is on the negative side. They associate it with problems such as debt, substance abuse, and mental health issues. Even though it has some positive aspects, some people see it as a shameful act. Someone should earn money the proper way, not by taking a risk on a game or sport.
In many places, the approach to gambling is a lot more liberal. Australia is one such place. As we mentioned earlier, the law permits it and it’s extremely popular. So much so that it’s a significant part of the country’s culture. Whereas other nations frown upon it, Aussies embrace it and focus on the positives. To many people in Australia, gambling is a harmless bit of fun, an innocent pastime or hobby. It’s socially acceptable and people talk about it all the time without any judgment.
How Come Australian Gambling Culture Is What It Is?
The Australian gambling culture has become what it is thanks to the country’s rich heritage. Today, Australia is very much a Western country, with clear traits from Asia, the nearby island nations, and beyond. The country’s population is very diverse. Around a third of Aussies have English ancestry and slightly less have pure Australian ancestry. Some of the most common other backgrounds include Scottish, German, Greek, Vietnamese, Irish, and Chinese. Australia is very much a melting pot of backgrounds and cultures.
Some people believe Australia’s large migrant population has contributed to the country’s gambling industry. It wasn’t until the British colonial period from the 18th century onwards that Aussies first started gambling. Back then, indigenous Australians enjoyed playing a few types of card games. They would gamble on the outcome and this was very much an everyday activity. Migrants arriving in the country would play these games too. They did this so they could integrate themselves in the Australian way of living.
Gambling culture in Australia was just as liberal back then as it is today. A few centuries ago, Australia already had the ‘no worries’ attitude and carefree approach. People thought nothing of gambling when it was just card games; they just saw it as entertainment.
As casinos came into existence and people practiced other types of gambling, the country’s opinion on it stayed the same. People enjoy gambling and it wasn’t harmful for the most part, so governments kept it legal. Of course, they ended up taxing the operators of gambling operations so they could earn revenue from it. By doing this, they kept people interested in the activity and ensured the revenue stream wouldn’t run dry.
It’s thanks to Australia’s laidback lifestyle that gambling has been able to thrive in the country. Nowadays, it’s so common that most Aussies embrace it as part of their country’s heritage. For many people, it’s a key part of living in Australia. Even if you’re not a gambler, you’ll no doubt know some people who do gamble. Plus, you’ll probably end up visiting places that host pokie machines and other gambling facilities at some point.
The Dark Side of Gambling
It may seem like Australia just blindly accepts gambling and sees it as a great pastime. While this is true to a degree, the country is well aware of the problems gambling can cause. There’s a lot of regulation in place to ensure that players have protection and can get help. Each state and territory has its own regulatory authority that oversees gambling regulation.
A quite shocking statistic is that in 2018-2019, Aussies lost around $25 billion to legal forms of gambling. This is a lot of money to lose for a country with around 26 million people. Especially considering many Aussies aren’t even old enough to gamble. Having said that, losing money is a key part of the gambling experience and isn’t necessarily a problem. Still, the huge losses show just how much Aussies spend on gambling. Some would say the losses are far too high.
Much of the money Aussies lose on gambling comes from problem gamblers. No matter how positively Australia views gambling, it will always affect some people negatively. Many people become addicts and other problems can arise. The good news is that there are programs throughout the country for those in need of help. Online casinos and sportsbooks also have tools and resources people can use to reduce their gambling.
Australian gambling culture is very laidback when you compare it with other countries. Most Aussies don’t have a problem with it and are happy to practice it as a hobby. It can cause problems as it can anywhere, but Australia prefers to focus on the positive side of it. These days, gambling is so commonplace that most people in the country don’t think negatively about it. They just accept it for what it is, whether they gamble themselves or not.
Speaking of which, Australians have access to a huge range of online casinos for real money. There are also plenty of casinos and other establishments where Aussies can indulge and enjoy gambling. It’s such a big part of modern Australian culture that it’s hard to avoid.