Queensland report recommends review of harm minimisation programmes

A Queensland Audit Office report says spending on harm minimisation programmes has remained stagnant.



Australia.- The Queensland Audit Office has released a report on the revenue generated by gambling in the state and what the government does with it. According to the report, gambling has grown in Queensland, with losses in 2022–23 totalling AU$6.1bn, up 36 per cent since 2018–19. Pokies accounted for 53 per cent of the gambling losses in 2022–23. 

See also: Queensland gaming revenue up 4.1 per cent in December

According to the report, the government collected AU$1.9bn in gambling taxes last year. Tax revenues increased by 43 per cent over the past five years; however, spending on harm minimisation programmes has remained stagnant, with only 0.6 per cent of tax revenue allocated to initiatives aimed at reducing gambling harm.

The report claimed the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation in Queensland needs up-to-date information on gambling harm to inform prevention efforts, noting that it had not conducted targeted research for over 9 years.

The report underscored a lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of existing harm minimisation programs. Despite allocating AU$300,000 annually for prevention, research, and evaluation endeavours, the department’s ability to assess the impact of these initiatives remains limited. 

Specifically, the report identified a lack of comprehensive evaluations for awareness campaigns and prevention measures, raising doubts about their efficacy. The report concluded with a list of 10 key recommendations, which include developing a comprehensive plan to understand the prevalence of gambling harm in Queensland, assessing long-term funding needs for harm minimisation initiatives, implementing prevention strategies targeting at-risk groups, and completing the implementation of recommendations from the 2021 review of gambling help services. 

The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation was advised to collaborate with industry stakeholders to prioritise the development of a centralised self-exclusion system, updating the Queensland responsible gambling Code of Practice, implementing a risk-based approach to assessing and managing gambling-related risks, strengthening regulatory oversight and enhancing governance and performance monitoring arrangements for harm minimisation strategies. 

Australia has the highest gaming machine loss per capita in the world, and Queensland ranks third in Australia, after the Northern Territory (second) and New South Wales (first). As of June 30, Queensland had 40,124 pokies operating across 1,037 venues. In 2022–23, Queensland players lost AU$3.2bn on these machines.

According to the report, players in the Brisbane-West region lost AU$52.2m on 768 pokies, which averages to AU$359 per adult. Players in the Outback-North region lost AU$42.1m on 538 pokies, which averages to AU$1,878 per adult – 423 per cent higher than in Brisbane-West.

A Queensland Audit Office report says spending on harm minimisation programmes has remained stagnant. Australia.- The Queensland Audit Office has released a report on the revenue generated by gambling in…