The COVID-19 lockdown last year temporarily stopped the gambling losses in Australia. However, once the venues reopened, gambling losses have been on the rise and gamblers are now losing more than ever.
Post-lockdown Gambling Losses in Australia Continue to Increase
The COVID-19-related lockdown in Australia closed many businesses last year, including gambling venues. From April through October the lockdown flatlined gambling losses. Consequently, this proved to be beneficial for some gamblers, who decided to quit but others have returned to the activity as soon as the lockdown ended.
Although gambling losses in Australia are at an all-time high, some states are losing more to gambling than others. Gamblers in Brimbank, a western suburb a part of Melbourne, Victoria holds the record of the highest daily losses from slot machines. Gamblers from Brimbank lost AU$482,168 for a single day in February. Despite the months of lockdown last year, ever since the gambling venues reopened, the losses have gotten worse.
According to a former gambler named Ian, who recently spoke to ABC Net, the lockdown helped people accumulate “large amounts of money”. Consequently, he said, that once the gambling venues reopened, people started coming back. Furthermore, what is worse, those gamblers now had an “abundance of money” which they never had before. Ian acknowledged that he has never imagined that gambling “would be so devastating and so prominent“.
Can Lawmakers Limit Gambling Losses?
One of the factors that boost gambling losses in Victoria is the working hours of the venues. In Victoria, gambling venues operate 20 hours a day, which is the longest working hours out of any state in Australia. However, the people who are suffering from gambling disorders undoubtedly boost the gambling losses as well.
While gambling remains a problem in Victoria, the government is not without a plan on how to deal with it. Lawmakers are trying to reduce the working hours of the gambling venues, which may result in a decrease in losses. Furthermore, the legislature has proposed freezing the number of gambling machines until 2042 and limiting cheque cashing services near gambling venues.
Additionally, lawmakers plan to reduce the gambling losses by proposing an AU$1 cap on bets, as well as AU$500 EFTPOS daily withdrawal limit. Last but not least, another way to reduce gambling losses is a proposed limit on the use of credit cards for gambling activities.