Gambling has always been a pastime that polarizes opinions. In some nations, attitudes that once bordered on the puritanical have significantly softened. The wide acceptance of sports betting in the majority of US states is an obvious case in point. Yet in other parts of the world, attitudes are changing in the opposite direction. The UK has been steadily tightening its rules regarding betting limits and advertising in recent years. But it is in Australia that the biggest shift can be seen.
A nation of gamblers?
Recent market research shows that around 80 percent of Australians gamble regularly. Average gambling spend in Australia is more than $1000 per person per year. Both of these figures are significantly higher than any other nation, and it is a record that Australian authorities are eager to shift.
Farewell to the pokies?
Slot games, or pokies as they are known in Australia, are the most popular form of gambling. As well as casinos, you can find them in practically every pub, café or truck stop. But that could be set to change.
Western Australia shows significantly lower spend on gambling than every other state. It is the only state that prohibits pokies outside casinos. To give that some context, there are 2,400 machines in Western Australia (approximately one per million people) compared with 91,000 in New South Wales (approximately ten per million people).
Calls to restrict pokies to casinos across Australia have grown steadily louder, while in New South Wales, the Green Party is keen to phase them out entirely.
Cashless gambling on the cards?
Another innovation originating in NSW is the introduction of cashless gambling. Under the proposed scheme, gamblers will no longer be able to pay cash directly into pokies but must instead use a special gaming card. These cards will be programmed such that holders can only gamble a set amount per day.
An amount of AU$1,500 has been mooted, although this has its critics. Many argue that such a limit will do nothing to help genuine problem gamblers and will only really affect wealthy high rollers.
More Australian casino options online
Against this backdrop, it is unsurprising that more Australians are pursuing casino options in cyberspace. Australia has not legalized online casinos domestically, but can do little to prevent offshore operators from targeting Australian customers. There are dozens of such sites, and while most are above-board and are licensed in other jurisdictions, there are inevitably a few rogue operators. Checking independent Australian casino reviews online is a wise precaution to ensure you choose a reliable provider.
Australian regulators are less than enthusiastic about the shift towards cyberspace. Australian casino providers are not permitted to provide online gaming services, and online casinos are effectively prohibited. The internet, however, has no real conception of international borders, and players simply log on to offshore sites. The regulator’s attempts to block such sites through Australia’s ISPs is clearly an exercise in futility, as two new platforms seem to appear for every one that is blocked. Meanwhile, the number of Australians choosing to gamble online continues to rise year on year.