The Dark Side of Online Gambling: An Australian Report

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The world of gambling has found a new playground: the internet. However, this seemingly harmless transition from physical to virtual has brought with it a host of issues that are causing concern.

Firstly, let’s look at the numbers. The global online gambling market was valued at a staggering $90 billion in 2022. It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 10% between 2023 and 2032, reaching a mind-boggling $370 billion

In Australia, for the first time, more than one in 10 (11%) Australians have reported participating in online gambling at some stage in the previous 6 months, up from 8% in 2020

These statistics, while impressive, hide a grim reality. Australians lose approximately $25 billion on legal forms of gambling each year.

This represents the largest per capita losses in the world. The social costs of gambling, including adverse financial impacts, emotional and psychological costs, relationship and family impacts, and productivity loss and work impacts, have been estimated at around $7 billion in Victoria alone.

The rise of online gambling has made it easier for people to gamble, leading to an increase in gambling addiction. The convenience of gambling from the comfort of one’s home, coupled with the anonymity it provides, has made it a dangerous pastime for many.

As a society, we need to question whether the revenue generated by online gambling is worth the social cost. The harm caused by online gambling is real and significant. It’s time for us to take a stand and demand better regulations to protect the vulnerable from the pitfalls of online gambling.

Online Gambling Addiction in Australia: A Growing Concern

Online gambling has become a major public policy issue in Australia, affecting the health and wellbeing of individuals and families in various ways. 

Australians lose approximately $25 billion on legal forms of gambling each year, representing the largest per capita losses in the world. The social costs of gambling, including adverse financial impacts, emotional and psychological costs, relationship and family impacts, and productivity loss, have been estimated at around $7 billion in Victoria alone.

An Examination of Online Gambling in Australia

Online gambling has emerged as a favoured activity for many Australians, with the sector witnessing substantial expansion recently. The ease and availability of online gambling platforms have simplified the process for Australians to engage in their preferred casino games and sports betting activities from their homes.

  • Australia’s Online Gambling Regulations

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) governs the online gambling sector in Australia. The IGA was instituted to safeguard consumers’ interests and maintain the credibility of online gambling operations. It restricts online gambling providers from offering their services to Australian residents unless they possess a license issued by the Australian government.

  • Prominent Online Gambling Platforms in Australia

Sportsbet, Bet365, Ladbrokes, and BetEasy are among the most frequented online gambling platforms in Australia. These platforms provide a diverse array of sports betting opportunities, including horse racing, football, and tennis, in addition to casino games like blackjack, roulette, and poker.

In 2022, the size of the online gambling market in Australia reached US$ 4.5 Billion. According to the IMARC Group, the market is projected to reach US$ 7.2 Billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.09% from 2023 to 2028.

  • Potential Risks and Challenges in Online Gambling

While online gambling offers convenience and is widely popular, it can present risks to susceptible individuals, including those struggling with gambling addictions. Furthermore, the regulation of offshore online gambling platforms can be challenging, making it hard to guarantee the protection of users’ personal and financial data

Impact on Centrelink Beneficiaries

While specific data on Centrelink beneficiaries is not readily available, it is clear that the impact of gambling addiction is widespread and can be particularly devastating for those with limited financial resources. 

All periodic returns from gambling are assessed as income, irrespective of whether a person is a professional gambler or not. This means that individuals on government benefits such as Centrelink who gamble may find their benefits affected, exacerbating their financial difficulties.

Rise of Online Gambling

Online gambling is the fastest-growing gambling segment. In 2022, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that more than one in 10 (11%) Australians have reported participating in online gambling at some stage in the previous 6 months. 

This figure is up from 8% in 2020. Digital technology means people are able to gamble at any time3, leading to increased accessibility and potentially exacerbating gambling problems.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on gambling participation in Australia. A 2020 survey found that almost 1 in 3 participants signed up for a new online betting account during COVID-19, and 1 in 20 started gambling online. Even with limited access to venues, overall, participants gambled more often during COVID-19.

Consequences and Support

The consequences of gambling addiction can be severe. Individuals may find themselves in significant debt, and in some cases, may resort to asking for food handouts. Support services are available for people experiencing gambling harm. These include the National Gambling Helpline, Lifeline, and various online resources.

The meteoric rise is fueled by the convenience and accessibility offered by online platforms, which allow individuals to gamble anytime, anywhere, from the comfort of their own homes.

While online gambling may seem like a harmless, fun activity, the reality is far from it. The harm it causes to individuals and society as a whole cannot be ignored. It’s high time we address this issue head-on and take steps to mitigate its impact.

Jess Pace
Jess Pace
Jess is a tech industry and gaming enthusiasts. She's also a freelance PR and media content creator with outreach publications in some of the big name media brands.

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