Aussies splurged stimulus cheques on the pokies, but squirreled away carbon tax compo

Australians decided not to gamble away last year’s carbon tax compensation payments and hoarded them instead, a University of Melbourne study has found.

Australians opted not to gamble away last year’s carbon tax compensation as they had earlier government payments, a University of Melbourne study has found.

Researchers explored whether the 2012 carbon tax cheques sparked an increase in expenditure at the pokies, as had occurred following the economic stimulus payments of 2008 and 2009.

Lead investigator Hielke Buddelmeyer said the study found many Victorian recipients splurged at the pokies in 2008 and 2009, but were more restrained in 2012.

"The Carbon Tax cheques arrived when people were expecting a hike in their power bills. They were portrayed as a rebate on rising costs of living due to a ’big, new tax’," he said.

"In contrast, the payments made during the Global Financial Crisis were seen as a windfall. Something to be spent, guilt free."

An estimated $22.5 million (or 1% of the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion economic stimulus package) was channelled into Victorian poker machines in December 2008.

But a statistically insignificant amount of money from Carbon Tax compensation payments was spent on the pokies.

The study, ’How windfall income increases gambling at poker machines’, used data on net expenditure per poker machine in 62 Victorian local government areas (LGAs) from 2004 to 2012.

"It’s clear people saw the carbon tax payments differently than the stimulus cheques," according to Buddelmeyer, who’s based at the University’s Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

"It’s also significant to note that the carbon tax compensation was a lot smaller than the stimulus cheques; hundreds rather than thousands of dollars."