Australia’s online gambling activity is still in a state of pandemic elevation, although its growth took a bit of a hit in recent weeks.
New data published this week by economic analysts AlphaBeta and credit bureau Illion show Australian online gambling transactions in the week ending April 19 were up 60% from a ‘normal’ week. Only six economic categories posted any growth as spending per person was 14% below ‘normal’ levels.
The usual suspects have seized on these figures to renew their call to put online gambling in the public pillory, but it’s worth noting that growth figure was below the 67% rate Illion reported in the week ending March 29. Online gambling topped all growth sectors in the March results but in April could manage only third-place behind ‘furniture & office’ (+66%) and ‘food delivery’ (+156%).
If anything should sound the alarm, it’s the food delivery growth, which was up a comparatively paltry 63% on the March chart. Given that most order-in food is generally not high on the health scale, why are Australia’s Chicken Littles not screaming about the imminent spike in heart disease, diabetes and size XXL T-shirt sales?
The authorities are also expressing concern that this online gambling growth may not be going to the proper sites, i.e. the ones from which Aussie governments collect taxes and fees. The New South Wales Office of Responsible Gambling (ORG) issued a warning on Thursday that bore the ominous title of “illegal overseas gambling sites not worth the risk.”
ORG director Natalie Wright expressed concern that the mass closure of Australian casinos and video poker (pokies) venues could prompt locals to check out the vast array of internationally licensed gambling sites that cater to the Australian market.
Wright warned that some of these international sites “look legitimate, and they even look like they are Australian by using images such as the Australian flag and native animals.” Sorta like how Australian-licensed gambling sites look legit at first glance, but customers quickly detect the distinct lack of online casino, poker and in-play sports betting options.
Regardless, Wright urged Aussies who might encounter a site offering Australians a broader range of options to report the overly generous thugs to the Australian Communications & Media Authority so that their domain can be safely assigned to the memory hole. Now that’s sorted, who feels like a large pepperoni with extra cheese?