New South Wales (NSW) has a long history of gambling and is seen as the gambling capital of Australia. It should, therefore, be no surprise that NSW is at the forefront of gambling research. The state is preparing to do even more for the community by investing heavily in gambling research.

The Responsible Gambling Fund is providing funding for dozens of positions in the gambling research sector. Three types of grants are available in conjunction with The Office of Responsible Gambling. Up to $53,000 per year for three years is available for PhD scholarships. Up to $150,000 over three years can be claimed for post-doctoral fellowships. Study grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 per recipient are also provided.

Both companies hope to attract some of the country’s brightest minds to help progress gambling research. The PhD scholarships, in particular, are there to help build knowledge and develop innovative approaches to help work towards zero gambling harm.

January 31, 2020 is the deadline for gambling research funding

Academics interested in securing a scholarship or fellowship have until January 31, 2020 to submit their applications. People applying for a study grant can do so throughout the year 2020.

More Than $1.8 million has already been awarded during the current year, proving the dedication to gambling research. The University of Sydney Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic received the most funding. A cool $277,500 went towards research into face-to-face and online treatments for problem gambling. That study aimed to compare the outcomes and cost effectiveness of the newer online treatment.

Some $250,000 went to Deakin University for its study into prevention and reducing harms through digital education. Deakin University create two online courses to provide a social learning approach for groups vulnerable to problem gambling. This course is now available as a resource for school teachers and support centres throughout NSW.

Pokies are the biggest source of problem gambling in Australia and Central Queensland University is helping to tackle it. It received $191,063 for gambling research into a randomised control trial involving people wanting to reduce their EGM gambling.

Four other universities receive grants and funding in excess of $100,000.

Gambling study shows decline in gambling

The extra funding comes not long after gambling research revealed a sharp decline in gambling in NSW. A study by Central Queensland University called 10,12 NSW residents on their landline and mobile phones. It revealed 53% of NSW adults had gambled at least once during the past 12 months. The same study in 2011 showed 65% of NSW adults had gambled in the past year.

Playing the lottery is the most-prevalent form of gambling with 37% of respondents buying a lottery ticket. Sixteen per cent used electronic gaming machines and it is here where problems tend to arise.

While the majority of pokies players play within their limits, many have a gambling problem. Machines are found the length and breadth of Australia from pubs to casinos. EGMs do not need skill to win, they are purely luck, and this attracts a specific type of gambler.

The same study revealed problem gambling has increased despite the decline in gambling activity. Only 0.8% of respondents in 2011 were identified as a problem gambler compared to 15 this time around. While this is not a massive increase, it shows more gambling research is needed to tackle the problem.

Gamblers who don’t speak English as their first language and have lesser levels of education are vulnerable to problem gambling. Also, men (1.7%) are more likely than women (0.4%) to develop a serious gambling issue.

This funding into gambling research may help scholars learn why certain demographic groups are more likely to develop gambling problems. Let’s hope it uncovers some answers because everyone should be able to enjoy gambling without it becoming an issue.