Parliament of Australia Considers Ban on Social Casino Games

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Australia is making significant steps towards prevention of gambling addictions, as the bill that seeks to ban social casino games passed its first reading in the House of Representatives of the Australian Federal Parliament.

Last week, Andrew Wilkie MP tabled a Private Members Bill, the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Banning Social Casinos and Other Measures) Bill 2020, proposing amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001. According to the IGA, any form of real-money online casino is prohibited, and the amendment put forward seeks to reclassify social casino games and include them in the real-money category.

Social Casinos the Perfect Promotion Tool for Online Casinos

During the reading of the bill in the House of Representatives, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie who has a history of fighting against gambling-related harm, explained into details what exactly social casino games are and the ways in which there is a cross-over from them to online casinos.

“Social casino games can also pave the way for problematic gambling, because they normalise gambling behaviours, increase the player’s confidence in winning and make gambling seem more socially acceptable and risk-free. This not only instils false confidence in players and encourages greater spending on social casinos but also primes players for movement on to more serious gambling sites”

Andrew Wilkie, MP, Parliament of Australia

Furthermore, social casino games target players with ads from online casinos that are embedded into the social media platform, encouraging the move towards real-money gambling, Mr Wilkie continued.

“Australian research has found that gambling-like games on social media effectively prepare children for gambling with real money later in life, because they familiarise underage users with how to play casino games. Even if the underage player is not spending real currency, the simulated casino game can make young people more susceptible to gambling mechanics, to psychological tricks and to addiction.”

Andrew Wilkie, MP, Parliament of Australia

Mr Wilkie then outlined the extent of the gambling-related harm problem in Australia, pointing out the country as the world’s biggest gambling loser per capita, with more than AU$1,200 per year, stressing that credible research relates around 400 cases of suicide annually with gambling addictions.

Gambling in Australia Poses Serious Issues

According to a report in the Financial Review cited by the Independent MP, a significant spike in gambling during the period of land-based casinos shutdown was registered, with some organisations posting a 114% increase in online gambling transactions. At the same time, counselling services were reporting an increase in demand despite casinos and clubs being closed, concluding that online gambling poses exactly the same degree of risk regarding gambling addictions, if not higher, due to the easy access to the services.

“In addition, gambling research shows that in times of great emotional or financial stress people are more likely to lose more money, making the COVID-19 pandemic a perfect storm for online gambling losses.”

Andrew Wilkie, MP, Parliament of Australia

The outcome of the bill cannot be predicted conclusively, especially in mind with the fate of a previous similar bill, the Xenophon Bill, after the name of by then Senator Nick Xenophon in 2013, which failed to pass.

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