Australia’s gambling problem

Sandra Junnikkala 9 months ago
Australia’s gambling problem

Problem gambling in Australia is now a major policy issue and continues to pose a serious public risk to this day.

According to a study conducted earlier this year, the social costs of gambling are truly multifaceted, encompassing financial impact, emotional and psychological issues, loss of productivity in the workforce as well as numerous relationship and family factors. 

What is certainly important to note is that the issue of problem gambling when in such a prevalent circumstance is that the impacts are not only suffered by an individual or their immediate relations but also their wider community.

The problem of gambling in Australia

In 2022, almost half of all Australians who participated in gambling-related activities would be classified as being at high risk of, or perhaps already experiencing gambling harm in some form or another. 

This ratio in and of itself makes the issue a cause for national concern, however, given the amount of adult participation in these activities, this can be likened to more of a crisis.  

An online general community panel survey conducted during the same year by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) found that three-quarters (73 percent) of Australians aged 18 and over are spending on numerous gambling products in a calendar year.

Types of gambling

Australia's gambling problem.

Lotteries and scratch cards are the overwhelming favourites with an incredible 63.8 percent reporting that they had participated in the last year. 

Horse wagering, sports betting and poker machines all come in close together with the highly accessible online casino games surprisingly bringing in some of the lowest turnouts at just 17 percent participation.

In regards to the iGaming industry, online casinos are actually illegal across all Australian territories. Australian players, however, may have increasing access to offshore operators who provide Australia-facing services.

These are entirely unregulated and not recognised by the Australian government meaning the 17 percent that do participate in online casino gaming can be considered an even more alarming rate.

Nonetheless, this could still indicate that gambling in Australia is part of a more traditional culture rather than the upsurge propagated by online operators being seen in many of the major markets today. 

Parliamentary inquiry

The issue has been considered so readily by Australia’s government in recent months that by the latter stages of 2022 a parliamentary inquiry had been launched under the leadership of Labour MP Peta Murphy.

Australia's gambling problem.
Parliament of Australia, Canberra, Australia.

This inquiry would yield several recommendations centred around a stringent re-regulation of the online gambling industry on a national level. 

This came much to the dismay of many industry leaders including operators SportBet and Entain along with several notable contributions from national sporting associations.

These included the Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL) as they were adamant that the current regulations were appropriate. 

This would only fuel negative sentiment towards the inquiry’s suggestions, however, as both the associations had agreed to partnerships that would see them receive a significant amount of gross gaming revenue from bets placed on league matches.

Furthermore, this revelation also supported the claim that sports betting-related advertising could be attempting to induce betting activity in a negative way.

Australia’s efforts

When the committee’s inquiry was finally tabled, the report contained a staggering 31 recommendations to adopt regarding the nation’s gambling sector. 

The first effort made subsequent to the recommendations was the proposal of a gambling advertising ban, which would see a comprehensively stringent prohibition across both broadcast media and online platforms.

As per the report, the committee’s lead, Peta Murphy MP had this to say on the potential legislation:

“Online gambling companies advertise so much in Australia because it works.”

Responsible Wagering Australia’s (RWA) 

The RWA, a trade body representing gambling operators, unsurprisingly had several criticisms of this legislation. 

Although members of the body continue to acknowledge that there is a growing desire among the relevant communities to see far less gambling advertising, a blanket ban in any capacity was described by the RWA as short-sighted, ineffective and incongruent. 

In a statement made by Kai Cantwell, RWA’s CEO this stance was clarified:

“We know that strict changes – like blanket bans and banning inducements, such as bonus bets – often prove ineffective in addressing problem gambling, with Australians instead turning to illegal offshore markets as they seek out these options.”

BetStop

In the past month, the federal government in Australia has introduced two highly significant measures aimed heavily at the issue of problem gambling on the shores of the Oceanic nation.

The first came in the form of BetStop, a nationwide self-exclusion register applicable to all licenced interactive wagering service providers. 

This requires operators to block players who have signed up for the register from creating betting accounts or participating in any wagers.

Additionally, operators including telephone and online-based providers, may not send any marketing or promotional materials to those who have registered. Furthermore, they are also required to promote BetStop across all their communication channels. 

Prior to the inauguration of the self-exclusion register, the CEO of the Australian Banking Association had stated that nearly half a million Australians had self-vetoed their gambling expenditure with their bank adding further credibility to this legislative action.  

Credit card ban

The most recent re-regulation on behalf of the federal government was extending the prohibition of credit card payments and digital currencies from land-based wagering to all forms of online gaming.

This ban sees non-compliant operators subject to fines up to $234,750 for each offence should they be found guilty.

On this matter, the Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland had this to say:

“It’s as simple as this: People should not be betting with money they do not have. The Australian government remains committed to protecting Australians from gambling harms.”

Into the future

It is as yet too early to determine whether these measures will be effective, however, a diverse approach has been heavily implemented already, meaning that the door has been left open for continued re-regulation is most certainly a possibility.

Options to curb Australia’s gambling problem remain open which bodes well both for the industry itself as well as the individuals and communities which partake in it.

Get ready for SiGMA Curaçao!

SiGMA Curaçao is right on the horizon, and in less than a week, it’s all set to kick off. Mark your calendars for September 25th to 28th, as this exciting event is brought to you by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with SiGMA Curaçao.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to become a part of something truly exceptional at SiGMA Curaçao. During this event, you’ll have the chance to gain priceless insights into the latest developments in gambling regulations, immerse yourself in the dynamic world of iGaming, and forge connections with influential figures within Curacao’s thriving industry.

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