Australia has a big culture of taking a punt. Whether it is on the dogs, horses or the pokies, gambling has moved out of the local TAB and taken on new forms with applications on smartphones and live coverage of betting odds during sporting events. Life Matters spoke to researchers and a number of professed problem gamblers to find out why we do it.

Australia is home to a large number of punters who are having a flutter in a growing range of ways. A study conducted by the Productivity Commission has found that 70% of Australians participate in some form of gambling each year. Currently there is an ongoing senate inquiry into the advertising and promotion of gambling services in sport, which will examine the in-ground advertising of odds and the integration of gambling into commentary.

According to the Australasian Gambling Review, gamblers lose around $21,000 each year. That is one third of the average Australian salary. Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or already are, problem gamblers.

And now the recently released DSM 5—America's mental health bible—has classified pathological gambling alongside other addictions like substance abuse. So why is Australia allowing even more avenues to punt and promote gambling than ever before?

Associate Professor Matthew Rockloff is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Health and Social Science Research at Central Queensland University. He explains why people gamble according to the four E’s: escape, excitement, excess and esteem.

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