People playing Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) or pokies can face greater risks than people who engage in other forms of gambling including lotteries, scratchies, and bingo. This is because pokies have the potential for high intensity play, at a high cost per hour. EGMs are designed to encourage people to keep playing them. Some advertising by EGM manufacturers make claims about the ability of their machines to increase player 'immersion" in the game.
The most common gambling activity for people with gambling problems in Victoria is pokie machines, as approximately 91% of people with gambling problems used them in 2009. People with gambling problems also describe pokies as the gambling activity where they spent the most money (64%) and played more intensively and for longer periods.
Problem gambling is characterised by difficulties in limiting time and, or money, spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others or for the community.
Gambling becomes a problem when it causes harm to the gambler and those close to them. Usually this means the gambler is spending more money or time on gambling than they can afford.
About three per cent of the Victorian adult population are problem gamblers or at risk of being problem gamblers, with each problem gambler affecting seven to 10 other people. Rates of problem gambling appear to be higher in some cultural groups.
The 2009 Study of Gambling in Victoria estimated that 0.7% of the adult Victorian population are problem gamblers; 2.4% are moderate-risk gamblers; 5.7% are low-risk gamblers; and the remainder are either non-problem gamblers (64.3%) or non-gamblers (26.9%).
Based on current population figures, this means around 130 thousand Victorians are classified as having a problem with gambling or being at risk of developing a problem. When you multiply that by the five to 10 significant others in peoples' lives, including their families, friends and employees, problems with gambling affect more than a million Victorians.