Coronavirus Rules Spur Dramatic Online Gambling Rise

It was inevitable. When the masses of people are confined to their homes for weeks – and possibly months – they tend to look for entertainment in places they previously ignored. This includes people who enjoy a bit of gambling now and then. They have found their entertainment online during the coronavirus crisis.

Australia doesn’t allow online casino or online poker operators to register with provinces or the federal government to obtain licenses. This would allow Aussie authorities to monitor the safety and legitimacy of online gambling sites. Instead, operators are based outside of Australia but remain accessible to Aussie players.

It is no surprise that gambling online has increased during the pandemic, though Aussie authorities seem to be surprised…despite years of data showing that players enjoy their online games.

Study Estimates Online Increase

Analytics consulting firm AlphaBeta and credit company Illion joined their data to reveal the rise in online gambling since the stay-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers showed that Australians increased their spending on internet gambling by 67% during the first week of April.

The report also showed an increase in alcohol and tobacco expenditures but only by half the number of online gambling. Alcohol and tobacco spend increased 33%.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a TAB spokesperson confirmed that online betting has increased. Horse racing remains the predominant betting focus, as racing has continued in all of Australia’s territories during the shutdown. The spokesperson said that since most pro and semi-pro sports leagues canceled their games in recent months, bettors shifted their interest to horse racing and betting on the races online.

Not Surprised but Concerned

Many experts in related fields are not surprised by the gambling rise.

Monash University School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine Associate Professor Charles Livingstone was not surprised. He understands that when a form of entertainment that usually garners $15 billion each year is restricted to online play only, many players will go there.

Livingstone said of the games, “They’re tapping straight into the pleasure genre of your brain. People who are under stress find that very liberating.” He did add, however, that the 67% increase was high and “quite alarming.”

Dr. Stephen Bright, an addictions expert at Edith Cowan University, noted the link between drinking and gambling, that the social isolation can lead to both.

“People drink more when they’re stressed and anxious,” Bright said. “You might be thinking smart before you’ve had a few drinks, but after a couple, you think ‘I’ll chuck a couple of hundred on and see what happens.’”

Merited Concerns

The problem with the lack of regulated online gambling is that there are no limitations for online casino operators. While many of them do operate responsibly, there are no regulations to dictate limits or monitor gambling trends.

Livingstone pointed out that free mobile games are a big draw for many seeking online entertainment, but some of them allow players to buy credits. There is no real-money gambling, but players can buy credits to play longer than they would otherwise. And there are no limits on most of these operators.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Executive Director Tony Mohr had a different concern. His focus is sports betting sites turning to betting on everything. Without the availability of most major sports, operators have opened their options to include everything from the weather to the stock market.

Reality Check

It should be noted that drinking is not an impetus to gamble. There are likely a few instances of drinking being the sole provocation to gambling, but this is not likely the norm.

While this author is not a doctor or researcher, the links between gambling and alcohol are weak, especially in this unprecedented time in the world.

For many people, gambling is an escape from the anxieties of real life and a solution to boredom. For others, it is purely a form of entertainment.

Those who oppose gambling have failed to provide alternatives for gambling. Moreover, they have long ignored the history of the world in which prohibition rarely succeeds. The regulation of activities like online gambling allows the most responsible oversight of gambling and the proper amount of intervention to prevent gambling harm.

Play Responsibly

Since the Australian government continues to ignore the opportunity to regulate online casinos, players can find it difficult to know which ones to trust.

Our experts have tested hundreds of casino sites and narrowed it down to a relatively short list of sites that we rate highly and trust completely. We provide details about every aspect of their operations – from customer service to game selection, and from deposits to withdrawals.

Keep in mind that most online casinos don’t require a real-money deposit. Players can access the sites, play demo games for free, and explore the sites before depositing any money.



Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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