Gambling’s community contributions: does the community benefit?

Louise Francis, Charles Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Harms from gambling are considerable and widespread, impacting beyond the individual gambler. Asserting benefits, including supporting ‘good causes’ outweighs this harm, is a common legitimization tactic of commercial gambling. Identified as problematic on many levels, this is a global phenomenon. Using unusually transparent data, this research assesses the extent to which such contributions offset gambling harms. Methods: Commonly in Australian jurisdictions, not-for-profit gambling operators (clubs) qualify for gambling tax reductions. To qualify in the state of Victoria, clubs submit annual statements documenting that at least 8.33% of their net gambling revenue (NGR) supports community purposes. We examined community benefit records from three consecutive annual reporting periods (2012–2015). Results are presented in aggregate, and via specific case studies. Results: We identified significant over-valuation of 'community benefits'. Gambling tax deductions overwhelmingly (82%) went to operational expenses including wages, venue maintenance, capital costs and utilities. Contributions to charitable and philanthropic purposes represented 4.5% of all community benefit claims (1.5% of club NGR). Conclusions: Similar to other jurisdictions, Victoria’s community contribution arrangements provide limited actual community benefit. Doing little to offset gambling harm, demonstrated benefits largely accrue to specific sectional interests. Greater transparency and improved governance is required. This includes, reviewing tax exemptions, reviewing allowable claims, and greater compliance oversight. This research identifies multiple failings with a community benefit scheme operating in a relatively transparent manner. Research lessons may be of interest to policy makers and others wanting to ensure that gambling’s demonstrable harms are, indeed, offset by clear benefits to community, and to preventing gambling harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-378
Number of pages14
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2020


  • community contributions
  • electronic gambling machines
  • Gambling
  • gambling benefits and harms
  • gambling regulation

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