A significant spike in online gambling in Australia is indicated by data published by two companies tracking consumer spending, AlphaBeta and illion.
Surpassing 2020 High
Published by both analytics companies, real-time data showed spending on gambling activities in the country almost tripled during the latest lockdowns in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. It also surpassed levels seen during 2020 lockdowns.
The average weekly spend on gambling in Australia increased from a base index of 100 per week pre-lockdowns to 384.4 for the week ended September 19, 2021, according to a consumer spend tracker put together by both AlphaBeta and illion, surpassing by almost 100 points the peak registered during lockdowns in 2020 of 298.3 registered in November last year.
There was no breaking down by type of gambling or online gambling verticals, but illion CEO confirmed in a commentary to a local media that the spike in gambling spending was most likely due to the closure of pubs, clubs, casinos and most other forms of entertainment in NSW and Victoria since June, leaving Australians with nothing else to entertain with.
There really isn’t anywhere else to blow your cash in Sydney and Melbourne if you want a quick entertainment hit.”Simon Bligh, CEO, illion
Among the latest victims of the health and safety measures enforced on Australians was Casino Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), albeit for a temporary 7-day shutdown only.
Limited Choice Entertainment-Wise
Commenting on the consumer spend tracker, Andrew Charlton, managing director of Accenture, the parent company of AlphaBeta, stated that data showed many people turned to online gambling during the latest lockdowns, realizing that online gambling was as close as their pockets.
It appears many people have been introduced to online gambling during lockdowns. They’ve discovered there’s a poker machine in their pocket. Combine that with the boredom of being at home and extra money – maybe from government payments or extra savings – and maybe this addictive new technology gets away from us a bit.”Andrew Charlton, Managing Director, Accenture
The data provided by the subsidiary of Accenture and illion requires careful consideration by governments and regulators to see whether current laws, which permit sports betting and lotteries but outlaws online casino games and poker, are adequate to minimize gambling harm or will need further tweaking.
Moreover, the current ban on iGaming and online poker does not seem to have a real impact on the market, since as long as there is demand, there will always be someone ready to respond to that demand, despite facing the threat of being ousted from the market.
Demand for online gaming raises the need to apply the same principle to iGaming as the one applied to land-based casinos and regulate them, instead of keeping them outside of the law, but whether there will be action in this direction remains to be seen in the future.