Lies, damned lies…and biased research reports

Lies, damned lies…and biased research reports

MEDIA RELEASE: Research released today by the government-funded Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) uses a highly biased participant sample to create a sensationalist view of gambling during COVID.

“This latest piece by AGRC uses responses from a small online survey to suggest that problem gambling boomed during COVID,” says Responsible Wagering Australia CEO, Brent Jackson.

“Firstly, using a pool of research subjects where almost 80% are at-risk gamblers will never provide an accurate picture of gambling behaviour and automatically sets the survey up for skewed results.

“In 2015 AGRC reported 7.9% of the Australian adult population were ‘any risk’ gamblers.  If the data from this latest report are to be believed, then there’s been a staggering 900% increase in ‘at risk’ gamblers over the last five years based on AGRC’s own data.

“Even if you limit the findings to represent just regular gamblers, then the findings suggest the incidence of ‘any risk’ gamblers has increased by an implausible 400% from 2015 levels. This just doesn’t stack up as a reliable picture.

“The inherent bias in the research subjects used in this study show how easily it is to create alarmist headlines.

“AGRC also used a pool of ten so-called ‘key experts’ who were interviewed and their opinions used to formulate policy suggestions.

“It’s deeply concerning that government-funded research draws on the opinions of ten anonymous individuals whose list of reforms literally involve ‘wishing’ for things to happen.

“A wish list is not a solid foundation for public policy, and it’s disappointing that such a skewed research design, supported by the opinions and wishes of ten anonymous individuals is being put forward as serious policy evidence.

“Any incidence of gambling-related harm is a poor outcome for Australia.  It’s imperative that government, industry and academia alike commit to rigorous, evidence-based policy discussions.

“Australian researchers lead the way in responsible gambling research, and credible data must be a first step in any policy discussion,” Jackson said.