Australians Are the World’s Biggest Gambling Losers, and Some Seek Action
MELBOURNE, Australia — In pockets of suburbia all across Australia, electronic gambling machines known as pokies await their many customers in pubs, hotels and sports clubs, as common a fixture as A.T.M.s in a shopping mall.
But the unremarkable machines contribute to an extraordinary level of gambling. Government statistics show that they account for more than half of individual Australians’ annual gambling losses, a gargantuan 24 billion Australian dollars, or about $18.4 billion. On a per-capita basis, Australians lose far and away the most in the world: more than 1,200 Australian dollars every year (or $920).
Australia’s gambling losses per adult are more than double those in the United States, and around 50 percent higher than second-placed Singapore, according to H2 Gambling Capital, an analytics company.
As those figures swell, a public war is brewing between venue operators and people against gambling,..