Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - ANNE MATHER

A NEW study has re­vealed Tas­ma­nian univer­sity stu­dents are de­vel­op­ing gam­bling prob­lems at a far higher rate than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, with in­ter­na­tional stu­dents most at risk.

The State Gov­ern­ment has de­vel­oped in­for­ma­tion videos in mul­ti­ple lan­guages to raise aware­ness about the risks of gam­bling, tar­get­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents study­ing at the Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia.

The gam­bling be­hav­iour has been out­lined in a study car­ried out by UTAS at the re­quest of the Gov­ern­ment’s Gam­bling Sup­port Pro­gram.

The study re­veals that lo­cal stu­dents are the most likely to gam­ble, with 58 per cent of do­mes­tic stu­dents hav­ing gam­bled in the past year com­pared with 38 per cent of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

But the rates of prob­lem gam­bling are al­most twice as high among in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, at 2.6 per cent, com­pared with do­mes­tic stu­dents, at 1.4 per cent.

These rates of prob­lem gam­bling — among do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents — are sev­eral times higher than those for the gen­eral Tas­ma­nian adult pop­u­la­tion, at about 0.5 per cent.

“Given the greater ten­dency of youth to en­gage in risky be­hav­iours, it has been sug­gested that ter­tiary stu­dents may be at in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ing prob­lem gam­bling be­hav­iour,” the study says.

The re­port shows the most com­mon form of gam­bling among do­mes­tic stu­dents is poker ma­chines (25 per cent), fol­lowed by in­stant scratch tick­ets (24.9 per cent) and lot­ter­ies (23.2 per cent).

The re­search comes on the back of the Gov­ern­ment’s lat­est So­cial and Eco­nomic Im­pact Study of Gam­bling in Tas­ma­nia, which shows young Tas­ma­ni­ans have a higher than av­er­age pok­er­ma­chine par­tic­i­pa­tion rate.

That study shows the par­tic­i­pa­tion rate for elec­tronic gam­ing ma­chines is 26.2 per cent among 25-to-34-yearolds, fol­lowed by 24.3 per cent among 18-to-24-year-olds. This is above the av­er­age rate across the adult pop­u­la­tion, at 18.6 per cent.

Meg Webb, from Angli­care’s So­cial Ac­tion and Re­search Cen­tre, said it was dis­turb­ing to see the take-up of poker ma­chines among young peo­ple be­cause the ma­chines posed the high­est risk of all gam­bling ac­tiv­i­ties.

“At a time when our state is work­ing hard to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for its young peo­ple and to break cy­cles of dis­ad­van­tage, the Lib­eral poker ma­chine pol­icy works to sab­o­tage those as­pi­ra­tions,” Ms Webb said.

Fed­eral Group spokesman Daniel Hanna said that de­spite the higher poker-ma­chine par­tic­i­pa­tion rates among young adults they tended to spend less ses­sions play­ing them and less money on them. He said the av­er­age ex­pen­di­ture on elec­tronic gam­ing ma­chines by 18-24year-olds was $110 per year — com­pared with $810 a year for those aged 65 or more.

The UTAS sur­vey of 400 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents shows the most pop­u­lar forms of gam­bling among the co­hort are casino ta­ble games (15.7 per cent), lot­tery (14.5 per cent), pok­ies (14.1 per cent) and in­for­mal pri­vate games such as cards and mahjong (12.3 per cent).

While rates of prob­lem gam­bling were sim­i­lar for male and fe­male do­mes­tic stu­dents, prob­lem gam­bling among in­ter­na­tional stu­dents was only found among males, at a rate of 5 per cent. This equates to 1 in ev­ery 20 male in­ter­na­tional stu­dents re­port­ing a gam­bling prob­lem — 10 times the rate of the gen­eral adult Tas­ma­nian pop­u­la­tion.

The Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties Tas­ma­nia said the Gov­ern­ment was aware of the prob­lem and was work­ing to sup­port in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

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