The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has long embarked on a mission to uproot illegal online gambling in the country. Several years after the first salvo was fired, Australians seem to be gambling more despite the pandemic. Yet, the findings of a new survey by the watchdog may be justified.
Online Gambling Climbs up in Australia during Pandemic
According to ACMA, online gambling activity in the first six months of 2021 went up, with one in 10 or 11% of Australians participating in online gambling based on their own account. That was higher than the 8% of gambling participants in the final months of 2020 the watchdog noted.
One of the key drivers of interest in the activity was sports betting which had been growing steadily. After the COVID-19 shut down of global sports for half a year, the pent-up demand prompted fans to get back to betting. The trend has remained intact and many bettors have continued to wager after the initial frenzy subsided.
Since online sports betting and race betting are legal in Australia, local gamblers had more opportunities to place wagers in an accessible and safe environment, the survey explained. Meanwhile, other segments of gambling such as casino and poker websites remain illegal and ACMA continues to target and ban them for accessing the country without licenses.
Nevertheless, lotteries remained the most popular with Australian adults and 21% of adults admitted to having participated in lotteries through June 2021. Lotteries led to a particularly strong H1 2022 results for Australian betting and racing firm Tabcorp which is in the process of demerging its lotteries and keno business arms.
ACMA Continues to Target Illegal Gambling Operations
ACMA has also taken an issue with illegal lotteries and warned Tabcorp over what the watchdog alleged were unauthorized in-play wagers. The country, though, still sees part of its population engage with offshore gambling websites, which it dubs as illegal.
One in 20 online gamblers is actually using offshore betting platforms instead of opting for the licensed ones at home. One-quarter of all bettors who took part in online gambling activities in the surveyed period had done so over the Internet, citing convenience as the main reason why. Commenting on the results, ACMA noted:
“The research provides a snapshot of online wagering in Australia at this time and how this has changed from pre-COVID years.”
The survey has been a powerful tool in helping assess consumer attitudes towards gambling and to properly analyze the share of the black market. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 prohibits casino-style and poker gaming and ACMA has so far banned 354 illegal gambling websites and 21 affiliate marketing sites.