According to the Productivity Commission’s Report into Gambling suggests that around 3 to 4% of all gamblers face difficulties ‘at least sometimes’ in controlling their gambling. For instance, around 1 in 25 gamblers play on after reaching a self-imposed limit and have difficulty in stopping themselves from playing.
The most likely immediate source of harm for most consumers is excess expenditure associated with control problems and false cognitions — gambling losses, in excess of the amount they would have spent had they played with control and with good knowledge about the service they were buying.
People who gamble regularly have a much higher likelihood (around 30%) of experiencing control problems, and indeed around 7.5% of them experience these difficulties often or always. This likelihood is higher for those gamblers playing gaming machines weekly or more often — nearly 1 in 3 at least sometimes say they have a control problem, and 1 in 10 say they often or always do.
More finely gradated data show that control problems appear to accelerate, the greater the level of exposure to gaming machines. The causality may go both ways. More frequent players may develop control problems, or gamblers with control problems may play more frequently.
Either way, from a practical perspective, these results mean that a significant proportion of the people who gamble, venue staff see playing regularly have control and other problems with their gambling. This suggests policy and voluntary measures put in place, by venues and the gambling industry, should attempt to target those who regularly gamble.