A new survey shows Australians are gambling less these days, while the country’s telecom watchdog continues its campaign against allowing Australians to access forbidden online gambling content.
The latest report from Roy Morgan Research, which involved talking to 7k individuals in December 2018, found that 47.9% of Aussie adults (roughly 9.3m souls) reported gambling in some form over the previous three months. That’s down from 50.1% in December 2017 and from 64.7% in December 2008.
The decline is notable, as Australians have long dominated global gambling participation surveys. The most recent H2 Gambling Capital stats showed Australians were the biggest gambling losers in 2017, with per adult gambling losses of US$958, well ahead of runner-up Hong Kong ($768), Singapore ($725), Finland ($515) and New Zealand ($454).
All types of gambling products reported activity declines in Australia over the past decade, with lottery/scratch tickets posting the biggest decline, falling from 56.4% to 40.1%. Australia’s ubiquitous video poker machines (pokies) were down nearly 12 points to 13.7%, betting declined 5.9 points to 9.4%, keno dipped 3.1 points to 5.1% and casino table games fell 1.3 points to 2.5%.
Younger Aussies reported the lowest levels of gambling activity, with just 25.7% participation over the last three months of 2018, less than half the number reported in the December 2008 survey. (This phenomenon is not limited to Australia.) The 25-34 demo was down 19.2 points to 37.5% participation, while the 35-49 bracket was down 21.8% to 46.4%. The two oldest demos not only posted the smallest percentage declines over the past decade, they were also the only categories with over 50% participation levels.
Roy Morgan’s communications director Norman Morris noted that over a quarter (27.4%) of all sports and race betting in Australia is now done via smartphones, which would seem to favor usage by younger demos. But declines in betting activity were largest in the two youngest age demos and those in the 18-24 bracket reported the lowest betting participation at just 4.7% last year compared to 11.3% in 2008.
Morris suggested that the declining interest in gambling across all age demos was in part due to gambling having to compete with “a proliferation of other entertainment and leisure activities. Increasing warnings and publicity given to potential gambling problems may also discourage participation.”
ACMA TARGETS MORE ONLINE GAMBLING ROGUES
Meanwhile, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) continues its fight against internationally licensed online gambling operators who continue to serve Aussie customers without local permission.
The ACMA’s latest quarterly interactive gambling report shows the watchdog received 80 enquires and complaints in the first three months of 2019, 62 of which were found to be valid complaints regarding apparent breaches of Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act (IGA).
These complaints resulted in 19 investigations involving some 35 distinct gambling URLs, which resulted in 44 separate findings of breaches. Most (32) of these involved operators offering a prohibited online gambling product (the IGA permits only online sports or race betting), while six breaches involved an “unlicensed regulated interactive gambling service” and six more involved the advertising of prohibited or unlicensed services.
Only one of these findings resulted in the ACMA issuing a formal warning to the culprit, while 36 other findings saw the ACMA report the offending URLs to “family-friendly filter providers.”
Last November, the ACMA reported that its actions had resulted in 33 “prominent” international gambling operators withdrawing services from the Aussie market. Analysts have suggested the ACMA’s actions are having less effect than it publicly proclaims, and that international operators still account for roughly 40% of the market’s online gambling spending.