An overview of gambling in the Northern Territory: integrated summary and future directions of the Charles Darwin University Research Program 2005-06: final report

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Publication details

Young, M 2006, An overview of gambling in the Northern Territory: integrated summary and future directions of the Charles Darwin University Research Program 2005-06, final report presented to the Community Benefit Fund of the NT Treasury, School for Social and Policy Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT. ISBN: 0975835688


There exists an obvious need for a well structured long-term gambling research program in the Northern Territory (NT). Historically, the absence of such a program, combined with insufficient local capacity to conduct research projects of significant scale, has been the primary impediment to producing scientifically credible, locally relevant knowledge on gambling participation and associated social and economic impacts. Apart from a 1996-97 work (McMillan and Togni 2000), no research as yet has accurately examined the characteristics and socio-economic consequences of commercial gambling in the NT.

This shortfall is particularly significant given the growth of commercial gambling over the past decade, both nationally and in the NT. Available statistics offer little insight into the patterns of gambling by the resident population. For example, they include internet and other gambling services exported by the NT as well as gambling expenditure by tourists and visitors to the NT. As a result, the proportion of gambling expenditure attributable to NT residents is difficult to estimate. More fundamentally, aggregate figures mask the diversity of gambling behaviour within the population.

Information is therefore needed about the prevalence of gambling, including participation rates and expenditure, along with estimates of the extent and social cost of problem gambling. By presenting an overview of the findings of the research project that Charles Darwin University (CDU) and its partners have been undertaking over the past 12 months, the current paper goes some way in addressing this shortfall.

The purpose of this discussion paper is to draw together three reports produced by the gambling team over the past year into an integrated overview and discussion of the nature, prevalence and associated social impacts of gambling in the NT. The gambling research project has consisted of three components: a telephone-based prevalence survey on gambling and problem gambling in the NT; a scoping study of gambling by the Indigenous population, and an assessment of the economic impacts of gambling in the NT. The results of each are comprehensively reported in separate documents:

1. Northern Territory Gambling Prevalence Survey.

2. Indigenous Gambling Scoping Study.

3. The Economic Impact of Gambling in the Northern Territory (completed by ACIL Tasman Consulting).

In order to brief partners and stakeholders on the outcomes of the study, this paper offers consideration and analysis of the most significant findings abstracted from the respective reports. This summary provides a base from which the CBF may consider future gambling policy and research in forthcoming years.