Pros and cons of gambling
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The World Today Archive - Tuesday, 20 July , 1999 00:00:00
Reporter: peter martin
COMPERE: Well, what are the economic costs and benefits of gambling in Australia? According to our economics correspondent Peter Martin, they're not the ones you might think.
REPORTER: Advocates for the gambling industry usually talk about benefits in the form of employment, incomes and spending, and yet according to the draft report of the Productivity Commission these so called tangible benefits are actually illusory. 'Without gambling' says the commission 'the employment, the income, the spending would still take place, it'd just happen somewhere else'.
It's the intangible benefits of gambling that the Commission believes to be the most real - benefits such as enjoyment from the gambling venue, the social interaction, the buzz of the risk, the thrill of anticipation. 'Gamblers are' says the commission 'buying hope'. For recreational gamblers that's a benefit worth paying for. 'For so-called problem gamblers', says the Commission, 'it's a big part of the problem'.
Problem gamblers suffer anxiety, depression or guilt, some think about suicide, some actually attempt it, they argue with their family and friends and work colleagues, they find it hard to work or study, they face financial problems and often legal problems resulting from those financial problems. The Commission says one in every 40 Australian adults are problem gamblers. On average each loses around $12,000 a year. Each one causes problems for some five to 10 other Australian adults who know or love them.
The gambling industry has argued to the Productivity Commission that these problems aren't really economic costs. They say the problems gamblers are doing what they want to. It's an argument the Commission flatly rejects, pointing out that many problem gamblers actually try to get themselves excluded from gambling venues. They recognise they're...