Beach in Australia

Coronavirus lockdown: Australia reports rise in online gambling spending

In a similar fashion to a number of countries around the world, the Australian government has spent huge sums in trying to keep its economy afloat as people stay home to try and slow the spread of Covid-19. Part of that spend was a one-off stimulus payment of AUS$750 to every pensioner and social security recipient in the country at the end of March to try and keep money flowing in the economy. And the result was a significant uptick in spending at gambling sites by Australian consumers – both international casinos and locally regulated bookmakers.

According to research into transaction by 250,000 consumers by analytics firm AlphaBeta for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, spending on online gambling rose in Australia by around two-thirds (67%) between 30 March and 5 April 2020 compared to previous years. This makes the gambling sector one of the best performing in the Australian economy, which has been under strain in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.

Interestingly, despite the government not regulating a single Australian casino online, they do not block such websites or ban Australians from playing at them, and as people have become increasingly bored during the lockdown it appears that many have looked to global online casino brands.

The lack of local options means that Australians have turned to operators based in the UK, Malta, and other jurisdictions where the government regulates the online gambling industry and sites like list the various deals available to new players.

Meanwhile, online sportsbooks are legal in Australia, and despite there being little sport to watch during the global lockdown, Australians continue to place bets on more niche matches such as basketball in Russia and football in Belarus, both with local bookies and international firms looking to grow their Australian business.

Other sectors also saw significant improvements in the wake of the stimulus cheques. Spending was down five percent during the week starting 30 March compared to the previous year, but that was significantly better than the previous week, prior to the stimulus, which had spending 13 per cent lower than the previous year. Predictably, food delivery services, home improvement stores, online retail store, and music, video, and gaming subscription services also saw significant growth.

AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton commented: “This shows us, once again, that stimulus measures really work”.

Travel spending, live events, and gym and other fitness services saw some of the most dramatic declines, with figures down as much as 95 per cent in some cases, as people took heed of government advice and stayed home. Without a vaccine it is unclear when or how these industries will be able to reopen.

Photograph by Gerralt van Soest