Posted on: November 19, 2021, 08:54h. 

Last updated on: November 19, 2021, 08:54h.

Western Australia (WA) has the highest number of gamblers, but the lowest levels of problem gambling. According to recent research, as reported by Australia’s ABC News, this is for one reason only – it has fewer electronic gaming machines (EGM).

Electronic Gaming Machines
Electronic Gaming Machines like these are hotly debated by regulators around the world. (Image: Getty Images)

The Perth Casino Royal Commission ordered an expert report to explore gambling and problem gambling, which led to the revelation. Matthew Rockloff, who was part of a CQUniversity (Central Queensland University) team that investigated gambling, concluded that there was no good evidence that EGMs, which were played at Crown Perth, were safer for problem gamblers then slot machines or EGMs from other states.

Responsible gambling awareness is currently among the hottest topics in the global gaming industry. All countries with regulated markets are making responsible gaming a priority for everyone involved, and programs put in place in several countries are said to be showing signs of success.

Since 1985, when Crown Perth opened, slot machines, or pokies as they’re colloquially known, have been outlawed in WA. EGMs are the only option allowed at the casino. However, according to the report, all gaming machines are “inherently dangerous.”

However, during the study, the royal commission heard from numerous witnesses who were unable to clearly explain the difference between an illegal poker machine and an approved legal EGM by the casino regulator.

Questionable Future for EGMs?

CQUniversity’s report stated that EGMs are “inherently dangerous,” as they can cause gamblers to spend excessively and get addicted. A study conducted by Gambling Research Australia last month found that the number of adult gamblers in Australia was cut in half from 2010-2019; however, the rate of those considered to be problem gamblers increased from 0.6% to 1.23%.

However, “…there appears to be no evidence that the EGMs in WA are safer based on the machines themselves,” the latest report added.

While almost two-thirds of West Australians are said to enjoy placing wagers, they are less inclined to lose control, according to the study. The study showed that about 63% of Western Australians are gamblers, as compared with 56% in the rest of Australia.

Only 0.9% of WA gamblers were also problem gamblers, which is lower than the 2.3% found in other states and territories. 8.7% of WA gamblers have used EGMs, while 17.3% do so elsewhere in the country.

Fewer Machines Means Fewer Problems

 The reason that WA has fewer gambling problems is because there are fewer people playing EGMs in WA, the report concluded. Therefore, according to the report, it could be assumed that, if WA had more EGMs than it does, the percentage of those classified as problem gamblers would increase, as well.

“In fact, our analyses … suggest that people who play EGMs in WA are just as likely to have gambling problems as people who play EGMs elsewhere,” said the researchers.

As regulators continue to figure out who’s at fault for allowing millions of dollars to be misdirected for gambling activity, more restrictions are certain to be introduced. The UK has already severely handicapped how much can be wagered per spin with slot machines in the country, while similar actions are being introduced elsewhere.

The clampdown has raised questions, however, as many believe it will lead to a resurgence in black market gambling. This segment, with its complete lack of regulatory oversight, could cause more harm than implementing strict guidelines on the legal market.



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