The media is full of doom and gloom stories about problem gambling, but are there any benefits to gambling at all? The Productivity Commission’s Report into gambling did list the following:
Gambling provides significant enjoyment for many Australians and is an important revenue source for governments. Gambling venues are often seen to be friendly, secure and accessible to people in the community. Gambling venues, particularly clubs, also make significant social contributions.
While the gambling industry accentuated the social and employment benefits of gambling, the most important benefits are gains to consumers.
Many people enjoy gambling and the associated activities in the venues where it takes place. Moreover, prohibition would erode people’s freedom and would risk the criminality and corruption associated with the provision of illicit gambling. This provides the rationale for one of the most important policy stances of government in relation to gambling — simply allowing it to be legally supplied.
Australians spend billions on gambling across all of its multiple forms — the most simple indicator of the collectively high value they place on it. While people express ambivalence about gambling, that does not usually relate to their own gambling. Most Australians do gamble to some degree. With the exceptions of those with control problems or significant faulty cognitions, people’s willingness to pay for gambling over alternative products reveals their underlying preferences.