Australia’s Victorian state government will provide AU$600,000 in grants via the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to support research into how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns impacted the gambling behaviors of residents.
With a theme of “Gambling in Victoria in 2020 – COVID-19 and beyond”, the funding round provides grants to six research projects covering topics such as “Economic insecurity and gambling behaviors in Victoria in the COVID-19 society” and “How Victorian venue gamblers kept busy during COVID-19 venue closures: can substituted leisure activities reduce gambling urges and the risk of gambling harm?”
The six projects will each receive between AU$50,000 and AU$150,000 over the next three years with the findings slated to help the Foundation shape future initiatives and activities to prevent and reduce gambling harm in the Victorian community.
“The most recent publicly available data shows online race and sports betting increased by 30% compared to the same period the year before,” said Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation CEO, Shane Lucas. “It’s critical we understand and learn from these changes in gambling behavior.”
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, added, “We know that throughout the pandemic and the associated lockdown, some Victorians benefitted from an enforced break from in-venue gambling, while others found it incredibly challenging.
“To be able to plan and respond to gambling harm effectively, we need to know how COVID-19 affected gambling behaviors. This funding will be incredibly beneficial in understanding how those vulnerable to gambling were impacted by the pandemic.”
Victoria is home to around 30,000 slot machines of which 2,628 are allocated to Crown Melbourne with the remainder divided between the state’s pubs and clubs. All were forced to suspend operation during Victoria’s four-month lockdown last year.