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Mountains and Molehills: a spatiotemporal analysis of poker machine expenditure in the Northern Territory of Australia

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Over the last several decades, electronic gaming machines (EGMs) have been steadily introduced into non-casino gambling venues, that is pubs and clubs, in all Australian jurisdictions apart from Western Australia. This spatial dispersal is of immediate policy concern given the documented relationship between EGM participation and gambling-related harm. However, while research has been conducted on the geography of EGM gambling in metropolitan Australia, less is known about the spatial patterns of EGM distribution in remote urban centres. In this paper we present a spatial and temporal examination of EGM expenditure trends in the main urban centres of the Northern Territory on a venue-by-venue basis over a 5-year period (2002-07). Three general spatial patterns of EGM expenditure were identified, namely suburban gambling complexes, city-centre gambling agglomerations, and opportunistic gambling nodes. We explain these patterns in the context of the interplay between existing spatial infrastructure, the accessibility of venues to particular markets, and the overall market distortions produced by regulation. We suggest that the sensitivity of existing harm-minimisation tools, based on a generic capping of EGM numbers by venue type, could be improved by consideration of these spatial processes at the local level.

Keywords: Gambling; Northern Territory; electronic gaming machines; kernel density analysis; spatial distribution; venues

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Charles Darwin University, Australia 2: Australian National University, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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