Economic, health and behavioural consequences of greater gambling availability

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Greater availability of gambling venues may increase gambling rates, and therefore enhance welfare through the additional enjoyment from gambling and the related socialising. However, it may also lead to problematic gambling, financial hardship and psychological distress. We provide new evidence on the potential benefits and harms of greater geographic availability of suburban gambling venues containing electronic gaming (slot) machines. Our setting is Australia, a country with high per capita gambling expenditure. Our approach combines geolocations of gambling venues with longitudinal survey data on gambling behaviours and economic, health and behavioural outcomes. We find that people residing in close proximity to gambling venues are more likely to gamble, less likely to be happy, and are more likely to suffer from financial hardship and mental health problems. These findings have implications for government policies to reduce the social costs of gambling venues. In contrast, we find no significant socialising benefits and near-zero associations with general health, relationship dissatisfaction, and crime victimisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106285
Number of pages15
JournalEconomic Modelling
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Financial hardship
  • Gambling
  • Mental health
  • Regulation
  • Social costs
  • Welfare

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