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The coronavirus pandemic outbreaks had most of the public activities ceased all over the world, including in Australia, as the authorities implemented rules about social distancing measures, curfews and lockdowns. The aforementioned measures affected all spheres of the economy, including the gambling industry, especially the brick-and-mortar gambling services.
After the social distancing and lockdown measures were imposed, it became impossible for Australian people to visit casinos. The Covid-19 pandemic brought some bigger changes in the sector, highlighting some new trends associated with online gambling and customer behaviour.
Casino gamblers in Australia have massively been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken by the country’s and states’ governments. They had to embrace other forms of gambling, with digital gambling options becoming increasingly popular over the period. The affection of the country’s residents to pokies also remained intact.
Online Gambling on the Rise in Australia during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Whereas Australian people were unable to visit traditional casinos during the coronavirus pandemic, they were still not fully stripped of the chance to place bets on their favourite casino games or sports events but they had to do it online. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, the interest in online gambling services marked a considerable increase.
Gambling participation, in general, has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, mostly because adult Australian gamblers preferred to switch to games available on the Internet. Apart from regular casino games and betting online, people also become more interested in betting on non-sports events.
The proliferation of online gambling during the pandemic was mostly due to the emergence of Covid-19. With pubs, clubs and casino venues across the country being forced to cease operation because of lockdowns, many people turned to online gambling platforms to fill in the void for gambling.
A recent survey conducted by the Australian Gambling Research Centre and aimed at checking the gambling habits of 2,000 local people has found that about 30% of the participants in the research registered gambling accounts online for the first time during the lockdown. Apart from that, the study also found that 1in 20 people participated in online gambling for the first time, and a considerable increase was registered in the number of people who gambled no less than four times a week – from 23% to 32%.
Poker Machines in Australia Also Win Big amid Covid-19 Pandemic
Some may think that the pubs and clubs closures during the Covid-19 crisis seriously affected Australians’ love for poker machines but this is not right.
At first sight, this is exactly what happened among many gamblers in Australia and other parts of the world but a closer look at the situation can show that so-called pokies even attracted more people than they used to before the pandemic. In fact, no drop in popularity of poker machines has been registered in Australia, despite the prevalent negative effects that the coronavirus pandemic brought to the entire sector in the last year.
After the lockdown and social distancing measures were relaxed, pokies have become even more profitable than before the pandemic, with Australian gamblers spending more on the controversial machines. In fact, the losses generated by local residents on pokies rose by 7% in the period from June to November 2020 in comparison to the ones registered a year earlier.
Poker machines in New South Wales (NSW) rose despite the pandemic, the state Government revealed in February. Local gamblers lost $2.17 billion to the controversial machines in NSW clubs from June to November last year. As mentioned above, this represented a 7% increase compared to the same period in 2019.
Customer Behaviour Changes Also Registered as a Result of the Pandemic
In October 2020, a study revealed some changes in consumer behaviours during the Covid-19 lockdowns. According to research, players who gamble online were prone to spending more money at the time than they would normally do. Figures showed that 1 in 3 individuals created a new betting account in June and July last year.
Furthermore, the study held by the Australian Gambling Research Center revealed that the majority of new account owners (almost 80%) were young men aged from 18 to 34. The same group of players also boosted their average monthly spending.
Researchers found that it was social isolation and uncertainty that affected customer behaviour, along with boredom and constant betting promotions that have been available to users, which were among the main reasons why young male players boosted their average monthly spending in the period. According to experts, the fact that Australians have been heavily exposed to gambling advertising during the coronavirus lockdown, was not much of a help when it came to controlling their gambling behaviour and motivation to gamble.
Local gamblers were able to take advantage of the offered self-exclusion programs and deposit limits in order to tackle their betting habits during the pandemic, with some major online gambling operators also calling for them to be responsible and thoughtful when placing bets on casino games or sports betting services.
Gambling Addiction Rates Decline Despite Surge in Online Gambling
The ongoing situation associated with the coronavirus outbreak and the measures that the Australian Government took to tackle the further spreading of the infection changed local residents’ lives. The measures imposed to battle the infection also affected gamblers’ behaviour.
As people were unable to leave their homes during the lockdowns, which also led to the collapse of many businesses and jobs losses in the period, Australians went into social isolation and quarantines. What was considered an interesting trend was the fact that despite the increased participation in online gambling, the gambling addiction rates over the period were reduced.
Still, anti-gambling campaigners have been worried because of the bigger gambling spending online, with some of them insisting that stricter measures should have been imposed in order for Australian players to be better protected against possible negative effects of their gambling habit. Campaigners have highlighted that although gamblers were unable to visit regular brick-and-mortar casinos during the lockdown, online gambling companies were still able to operate, leave alone the fact that many of these operators followed some aggressive marketing campaigns during the period.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.