Predicting gambling harm

A SOUTHERN Cross University academic and another from the Australian National University have developed a modelling tool that can predict the location of gambling-related harm.

Dr Martin Young, a senior researcher with the Southern Cross University's Centre for Gambling Education and Research, developed the model with Dr Bruce Doran from the Australian National University.

Dr Young is presenting the initial results, entitled 'Predicting the spatial distribution of gambling harm in remote contexts', at Southern Cross University's Lismore campus tomorrow.

"The model Dr Doran and I have developed allows us to map the likely incidence of harm for any given location," Dr Young said.

"Early results show we are predicting the catchments, or trade areas, of poker machine venues extremely accurately, far more accurately than we were anticipating.

"And we've accurately predicted the harm flowing from these locations."

The model uses poker machine data, location of venues and socioeconomic status at the local level to predict gambling harm.

"Merging trade area data with low socio-economic status produces a gambling vulnerability surface," said Dr Young.

Dr Young said the model was developed to help governments make informed decisions, allowing them to prevent or minimise the presence of pokies in vulnerable areas.

Dr Young said consumers were currently bearing both the cost and the risk associated with gambling industry.

"Electronic gaming machines (EGM) are so profitable because they produce a gambling product that is almost labour-free. From a spatial perspective, they can be distributed extremely easily and thus possess the ability to exploit untapped markets through the existing pub and club infrastructure.

"From a fiscal point of view, EGMs are a regulator's dream in that the resource flows they produce can be linked to real time centralised databases for taxation, accurate to the cent per day."

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