Australian Gambling By Numbers

Gambling is quite popular in Australia. A great part of the population takes part in casino games and sports betting, among many other fun options, according to their preferences.

Australians love gambling, and that’s why the industry is exponentially growing on an annual basis. For today’s article, we’ll explore some of the numbers that contribute to gambling in Australia, the good and the bad. This way, you can have an overall idea of the industry’s current state and what you can expect from it in the future.

How popular is gambling in Australia? 

Before we start, it is necessary to note that gambling statistics haven’t been updated since 2018. Therefore, the data may have changed and may require an update. For now, this is the information we have access to – and it comes from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

We’ll go through different statistics, including:

  • Gambling participation
  • Gambling expenditure
  • Most popular games

There’s a lot of information to process, and the numbers may have increased in the latest years (or perhaps reduced as a result of the pandemic). Either way, remember that the information may not be 100% precise since all the data available is from over six years ago.

  • Gambling participation 

For starters, let’s take a look at how many people are gambling in Australia. 

The Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) conducted a survey in two different years, the first one in 2015 and the other one in 2018. It aimed to collect information regarding gambling participation, expenditure, and problems related to these activities.

According to the results, at least 35% of Australians over the age of 18 (which at the time equaled 6.5 million people) gambled regularly in 2018. The numbers have greatly dropped since 2015 when the results were 39% (around 6.8 million people).

  • Gambling expenditure 

The gambling expenditure numbers report an increase in certain areas and a decrease in others. For instance, in 2018, people spent the most in horse and dog races, while in 2015, poker took the crown as the game where gamblers put more money.

According to the same document, only in 2015, Australians gambled $8.6 billion. The games with the most earnings were lotteries, EGMs, and race betting. 

A different statistic says that the average gambler spends at least $1,272 in gambling annually. 

Another study found that people from low-income households have a tendency to spend more than their current disposable income on gambling, with the percentage being 10%. Contrary to this, high-income households tend to spend around 1% of their disposable income.

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A 2017 study by H2 Gambling Capital says that Australian gamblers lost around $958 million throughout that year. 

However, the numbers exponentially increased in 2018. According to the 35th Edition of Australian Gambling Statistics – the primary source of gambling statistics in Australian territory – says that Australians bet over $242 only between 2017 and 2018. If we average across the 19.75 million Australians over the age of 18, that means that people spent a minimum of $12,000 in gambling during that period – pretty worrying numbers.

That said, the same study says that people spent $25.8 billion on racing, $181.4 billion on gaming (casinos and pokies, for instance), and $11.6 billion on sports betting. Remember, we’re talking about totals – not how much was lost. 

  • Most popular games 

Gambling is quite popular in Australia, although people have different approaches to it depending on their playstyle and preferences. For instance, research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies took into account the same potion of people mentioned above (6.8 million people or 39% of the population) and found out that the following casino games are the trendiest:

  • At least 76% of players played Lotteries.
  • 22% of punters preferred to play scratch cards.
  • 21% of people chose electronic gaming machines (EGMs) instead.

Over the years, the gambling numbers have remained “relatively” balanced. However, it seems like men tend to gamble more than women, with 54% over the age of 18 engaging in gambling activities. Plus, a study says that men between the ages of 50 and 64 gamble the most.

Gambling in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic 

As we’ve mentioned above, there is little data available regarding recent years. However, there was a survey conducted in 2020 that shows that online gambling activities became even more popular during said year, probably because people had more free time than usual.

Either way, men spent an average of AU$770 during the pandemic, while women actually spent less, around AU$100. The survey gathered other interesting information, including the following:

At least one in three participants created a new betting account in an online casino in Australia. Likewise, one in twenty participants began gambling via the internet.

  • People who gambled four times per week increased from 23% to 32% through the pandemic.
  • Race betting was the most popular game, as well as lotteries.
  • An impressive 79% of people reported being at risk of having a gambling-related problem or were already dealing with one.
  • People from ages 18 to 34 were the most likely to start an online gambling account. In addition, they were at risk of increasing the frequency of their gambling activities and how much they spent every month.

Another interesting statistic says that people bet the most on horse racing (60%) during the pandemic. Other popular options were sports betting (45%), lotteries (38%), and greyhound racing (37%).


While the gambling industry in Australia seems to continue growing, it seems like a great part of the Australian population is developing a gambling problem or already has one. It’s extremely worrying that an individual spends AU$ 12,000 per year only on gambling – especially in a world post-pandemic where the inflation rates are continually increasing.

Furthermore, certain studies say that at least 400 Australians commit suicide due to gambling stress (figures taken from Australia’s Productivity Commission). 

Australia seems to have plans for the gambling industry, including the development of a National Gambling Strategy that intends to aid problem gamblers and a reduction in gambling advertisements.