by Brian Doyle

According to market experts, Australia’s online gambling revenue spiked significantly in September, compared to the figures reported last year in the same month. The growth reported in September almost tripled the levels reported in the periods before the lockdown.

A Spike in Australia’s Online Gambling Market

Data from two firms tracking consumer expenditure, Illion, and AlphaBeta, shows that the Australian online gambling market grew considerably in September, exceeding 2020’s all-time high. Real-time data from the two analytic companies also revealed that Australia’s gambling expenditure almost quadrupled in the recent lockdowns in Victoria and New South Wales. The revenues reported also went beyond the levels reported during the 2020 lockdown.

According to the consumer spending tracker by the two analytics firms, the weekly gambling expenditure in the country rose from a base index of 100 before the lockdown and reached 384.4 in the week ending 19th September 2021. That figure surpassed the peak of 298.3 registered in November during the 2020 lockdowns by almost 100 points.

Online gambling has continued rising globally since the lockdowns started early in 2020, but with a different mix of gaming/wagering than in Australia, which has been dominated by online lotteries and betting. Unfortunately, the data didn’t break down the market share of each online gambling vertical or type of gambling. However, Illion revealed that the rise in gambling expenditure was mainly due to the closure of clubs, pubs, casinos, and other entertainment centers in Victoria and NSW.

Following the closure of land-based casinos and entertainment centers, there isn’t anywhere that people can blow their cash in Melbourne and Sydney when looking for a quick entertainment fix. Casino Canberra is among the latest gambling centers affected by the Australian health and safety measures, although it has just been shut down temporarily.

Compared to the pre-lockdown data, Israeli firm Optive reported a 43% increase in online poker games. There was also a whopping 225% growth in players who chose to try online poker for the first time during the lockdown periods.

Rising Market for Entertainment, eSports, and Novelty Betting

With the growth in the online gambling market, Australian betting firms are expanding into eSports, entertainment, and novelty betting. Some of the most exotic products witnessed in the market recently include betting on reality television shows like Lego Masters Australia, Triple J’s Hottest Countdown, and the weather. That means Australians can bet on whether the temperatures in major cities will be lower or higher than predicted.

Australians are starting to wager on the negative and positive quarterly residential property fluctuations across major cities and the results are confirmed by the Bureau of Statistics. It’s also possible to blend “churn” on entertainment and novelty items.

Unlike harness, greyhound, and thoroughbred racing (which offer a great level of entertainment to people while providing a huge profit margin to bookies), other goods have proven to be excellent long-term investments. That’s especially true when wagering on the outcome of a TV show and it doesn’t have any influence on the operator’s bottom line.

Esports is another sector that grew tremendously in Australia during closure of traditional sports, despite being relatively new in the betting industry. The sector has grown rapidly since Pinnacle’s first bet in 2012, with the global betting revenue on esports matches totaling about $13 billion annually.

With the cancellation of live esports tournaments due to lockdown restrictions, competitions organisers like the ESL have been forced to swiftly transition to an online structure from LAN events. The lack of conventional sports at the time played a huge role in making esports more popular, as people needed other things to bet on. This trend continued past the lockdown, with millions of Australians still wagering on esports in September.

Limited Entertainment Options

Many people were introduced to gambling during the lockdown as they discovered poker and slots machines are only a few clicks away. That combined with extra money (from savings and government payment) and the boredom of staying at home saw more Australians exploring online gambling as a source of entertainment.

According to data provided by Illion and Accenture, the current laws which allow lotteries and sports betting but outlaw online poker and casino games, are enough to minimise gambling harm. Additionally, the ban on online poker and iGaming activities doesn’t seem to have a significant impact on the market. That’s because there will always be people ready to offer games online as long as there is a demand, despite the risk of being booted from the market.


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