Second quarter numbers from market research firms confirm that Australian gambling levels gradually continue to fall. While some people have celebrated this news as a victory for those concerned with problem gambling, others worry that the government’s restrictions on gaming are going to drive more gaming businessesfrom the country, which will lead to a decrease in revenue.
The Decline in Gaming During the Second Quarter
Market research has indicated that less than half of Australians are continuing to gamble in some form, which is down again from the same period last year. While the decline during the second quarter of 2018 was small (another 1 percent), this continues the declining trend overall that was repeated in the first quarter, as well as in 2017, and represents an overall decrease of nearly 4 percent in a year and a half. The trends in gaming do not consider online gaming, which continues to grow with offshore gaming companies, but is not counted because of continuing legislative action against online gaming. The majority of Australians who are continuing to gamble are doing so through a lottery or scratch cards (or scratch tickets). Other Australians prefer to use the slot machines that can be found all over the country. Approximately 16 percent of Aussies play some kind of casino game. Sports betting is holding steady at around 10 percent.
The Government Crackdown on Gaming
Researchers believe that the Australian government’s crackdown on gaming is responsible for the gradual decline in people who are choosing to gamble overall. In 2016, the government passed legislation to ban lottery play that was not authorized by the country. This banned overseas lotteries or synthetic lottery games online, such as Lottoland, which is a type of synthetic lottery. Both lotteries awarded money to players but did not allow revenue to flow into the country. In the fall of 2017, the government chose to outlaw online casino games, such as online poker and blackjack, which led to a number of gaming companies leaving Australia and a loss of revenue.
In addition, states in Australia have decided to further tax any online gaming still allowed in the country, which means that the states are getting additional income. But, this further lessens the revenue for companies, which are already suffering from shrinking revenue. These point of consumption taxes range from 8 percent to 15 percent, depending on the state.
The Australian government has also cracked down on gaming ads in 2018. Australian TV was banned from showing ads related to gaming during any live broadcast of sporting events, such as the World Cup, which led to revenue losses for sporting teams as well as gaming companies.
The New Crackdown on Loot Boxes
Finally, the Senate has decided to investigate the awards system provided through video games to determine whether they should be banned as well, as research has noted that many of the video games have addictive properties and may need to be restricted for children under 21. The rewards system, called loot boxes, allow children and teenagers to make purchases within the game to gain points or items that allow them to win the game or improve their score. Video gaming companies have used the loot boxes in order to get additional income after the game had been purchased. Critics have charged that because loot boxes can be bought and sold with real money, and what is in the loot boxes is determined by chance, they are akin to gambling.
If research continues to note the gradual decline in gaming within Australia, the country will continue to lose revenue as well as businesses.
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