Debate About Age Limits on Mobile Betting Games in Australia

In Australia, gaming is an important part of the culture in all the Australian states. In fact, Australians are the biggest losers gambling has. They lose an average of $1,000 per man, woman, and child in the country. Earlier this decade, Australia decided to place an age limit for all its gambling, which is fixed at 18.

However, there are ramifications for the 18-year-old age limit on casino gaming, gaming machines, sports gaming, and mobile gaming. Australians have been debating for several years about whether to raise the gambling age to 21 across the country.

The Problem with Current Gaming Regulations

Current gambling regulations in Australia state it is illegal for gamers under the age of 18 to use mobile gambling apps or websites. While the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill bans offshore gambling sites from providing gambling services unless they have a license in the country, it does not punish players who are continuing to use mobile application sites to gamble.

This means that minor players, if they chose, can gamble offshore on mobile applications, and the company is liable. Because of the nature of mobile gambling, however, it is extremely difficult to figure out if the person who is playing is a minor. In addition, the risk of offshore companies that do not have a license to offer games to Australians is minimal because the companies are not based in Australia.

In addition, by not allowing minors to gamble, the country is losing out on revenue from gambling that is currently going to companies offshore. There is no taxation. While no one is sure how much gambling revenue this might be, it is estimated that mobile gaming in Australia alone could be as much as $3.2 billion yearly.

Also, many critics have argued that there is not much difference between the brain of a 16-year-old, 18-year-old, and 21-year-old. Researchers have noted that the adult brain is not formally developed until 25 or older, depending on the person.

The laws on gambling differ from country to country. While in Australia, the age of 18 is countrywide, in the United Kingdom, the age limit for gambling is anywhere from 16 to 18 depending on the game. National lotteries or scratch-off tickets can be bought by anyone 16 years old or older. In the United States, the age limit differs depending on the state and its laws and can be anywhere from 18 to 21.

When Children Are Allowed to Gamble

While there are reasons to perhaps adjust the age at which gambling in Australia begins, there are also reasons why the gambling age needs to be at the age of adulthood. In the early part of the 21st century, before the age of online gaming, the United Kingdom allowed people of any age to gamble.

This meant that, tacitly, the U.K. gave permission for children to gamble. Children were allowed to play slot machines if they spent less than £5, and there were reports children participated in football pools and lottery scratch-offs because no one was really checking their ages.

A research study estimated that about 100,000 British children could have been considered problem gamblers because of their gambling behavior. This figure represents approximately 4 percent of the U.K. population. Many people were disturbed by the report, and the U.K. later passed laws that restricted gambling.

Whether gambling is further regulated in Australia remains to be seen. At whatever age the country proposes to draw the line between childhood and adulthood, the government needs to ensure that regulation touches all parts of the gaming industry.

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Richard Holmes was born in Tampa, Florida and studied computer science at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida. A devout Baptist, volunteer Sunday School teacher and online gaming fan, Richard works as a part-time systems administrator at Baptist Hospital and part-time professional blogger specializing in statistics, probability and computer science issues. He is an ardent believer in the future of artificial intelligence as a tool for transforming human society for the better, particularly in the area of health care and modern medicine. A chess player, and competitive online gamer Richard actively participates on online gaming tournaments in his free time.