STUDENT GAMBLERS PUSHING THEIR LUCK
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.