Australians Lay $6 Billion Punt

Aussies continue to put their money where their mouths are, laying a record $6.4 billion worth of bets in just three months to September. That’s before the Spring Carnival and Melbourne Cup gates were even drawn.

In fact, to our memory, there’s not a significant betting event in that whole period, so these were just old fashioned wagers on a dog riding a horse around a pokie machine. Six and a half billion dollars’ worth of them.

And the magnitude of problem punting wasn’t confined to that three month period either, with a gargantuan $24.1 billion outlaid on gambling in the year to September. That’s around $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

This sort of frivolous behaviour suggests Australian budgets are going just fine. That, or we’re a bunch of idiots.

The figures come from our national accounts, released this week, which provide detailed figures on consumer spending and the general health of the economy.

One of the weakest areas of spending was in ‘old media’, being newspapers, books and stationery. Spending in the year to September was $8.2 billion, the lowest annual total in almost eight years.

On the back of that, those punts are probably poorly informed efforts, too. Because, you know, the form guide is gold in picking a winner… If you can read it.

Putting on our economics hats for a moment, the sharp team at Commsec assure us that the broader spending figures paint a pretty healthy picture for our economy.

“Consumers aren’t budget-constrained – spending is healthy, helped by lower petrol prices and improving affordability.”

And the kicker for Christmas? Despite this buoyancy, we’re assured that “retailers are loathe to lift prices in the current environment.”