With Australia on a lockdown, online gambling has increased by 67% pointing to a serious pick up in unregulated operations.
Online Gambling Traffic Grows in Australia amid COVID-19 Lockdown
Australia is witnessing an alarming rise in online gambling along with alcohol and tabacco sales, new data collected by a database that tracks consumption patterns has revealed.
According to AlphaBeta and credit company Illion, which have collated the data based on the habits of hundreds of thousands of Australians, online betting has increased by 67% and the sale of alcohol and tobacco has increased by 33%.
The spike in online gambling has been linked to the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic which has suspended all non-essential businesses, and this right after the devastating bushfires which had raged for months.
According to Charles Livingstone, an associate professor from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, with bars temporary closed and casinos finally shut down, even though Crown decided to take a different approach, Australian gamblers are now looking for alternatives.
Estimated $15 billion of revenue could migrate online, offering new opportunities for online business, but that invites its own dangers, as Australia prohibits online gambling in most of its forms – but specifically online casinos – meaning that $15 billion could now be syphoned off by offshore operators with patch track records.
Professor Livingstone confirmed the link that exists between gambling and the pleasure center of the brain, making the activity rewarding. Seeing a 67% increase is in fact worrying, Livingstone added. People have been equally looking into some free options that are still based on gambling mechanics, the data revealed.
The Lure of “Free Games” and Lack of Regulated Online Gambling
According to Tony Mohr, executive director at Alliance for Gambling Reform, these “free games” are specifically designed to be addictive and “hook” people. Meanwhile, gaming and betting company TAB has confirmed that punters have switched to online betting, as horse races still continue in Australia.
A lot of the interest in sports betting has focused on the few remaining events and leagues around the world, including basketball, table tennis, and soccer in places like Russia and Belarus. Meanwhile, addiction experts have commented that the spike in alcohol sales is directly linked to an increase in alcohol consumption.
Elsewhere, national governments have also considered emergency measures to help clamp down on the spread of gambling addiction in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Spain has suspended all advertisement on gambling bar in the small hours of the night.
Latvia, on the other hand, has completely suspended all gambling through April 14. In the United Kingdom, regulators and charities have stepped their efforts to boost awareness of the dangers of isolating people with gambling tendencies.
Yet, Australia faces a problem entirely of its own as gamblers tend to play at unregulated sportsbooks and casinos, whereas in countries such as the United Kingdom and Spain, most of the gambling is shifting towards licensed gaming operators.