On the Edge of Legality – The World of Australian Online Gambling
According to a 2021 study, as many as 11% of adult Australians declared that they participated in online gambling activities in the last six years. The Australian market has been growing year by year, generating more and more money.
Online casinos and betting services attract millions of Australians annually. In 2022, the value of the Australian online gambling market reached approximately 4.6 billion dollars, maintaining an upward trend. It is estimated that by the end of this decade, this number could even double.
Australian Online Casinos
Online casinos in Australia attract several hundred thousand users each month. Among all forms of online gambling, this is one of the least popular and least profitable. Few use online casinos, but they leave quite a lot of money there.
With the smallest market share, online casinos in Australia have for several years recorded the highest average revenue per customer in the iGaming industry. In 2022, the average online casino player in Australia left about 2350 dollars in the casino. In 2023, this is expected to be over 2800 dollars.
The Grey Area of Casinos
The legal situation of online casinos in Australia is extremely interesting and complicated. According to the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, online casinos in Australia are practically illegal. This act prohibits operators from offering players the following games (provided that real money is involved):
- Slots (pokies)
- Casino games, such as poker, roulette, etc.
- Scratch cards
- Live sports betting
- Betting on lottery outcomes
The law prohibits both offering and promoting the above games, provided that real money is required to participate. Otherwise, these games are perfectly legal.
In practice, this means that the entire market of games and online casinos belongs to a huge grey area. The Australian government not only does not counteract the grey area, but Australian law does not prohibit players from playing in illegal entities. Players who participate in such entertainment will not face any legal consequences. However, players face a huge risk as they may encounter many dishonest operators.
Government Response – Increasing Legal Prohibitions
The legality of physical gambling machines and land-based casinos impacts the situation of illegal online casinos negatively. As for lotteries or sports betting, there are fully legal entities operating in Australia that have obtained the necessary state licenses, where one can play without worry.
In 2023, this issue came under the spotlight in the Australian Lower House. A pivotal moment for the online casino industry is approaching: the introduction of a ban on gambling on Australians’ credit cards.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill is an act that proposes, among other things, such a solution. Using a credit card, but also cryptocurrencies, could result in high penalties, amounting to up to 156 thousand dollars. The bill will go to the senate, and its implementation can be expected in the second half of 2024.
Lotteries Not Giving Up
An important branch of the market is also lotteries, which in recent years have left online casinos behind, mainly for legislative reasons. It is estimated that in 2023, the online lottery market will bring in about 365.5 million dollars in revenue, which is an increase of about 10% compared to 2022.
In each state, there are various types of lotteries that can also be played online. The largest operator, operating in 5 states of Australia, is The Lottery Corporation, a publicly traded company that has been in business for over 150 years. There is also a special portal, National-Lottery.com, in the Australian market, where players can check the results of each lottery and, with one click, purchase a ticket online from a selected operator.
Betting in Australia
Betting on sports event outcomes is definitely the most popular form of online gambling in Australia. According to data from Statista, the number of people playing with Australian bookmakers almost doubled between 2017 and 2022, and is expected to increase even more in the coming years.
77 Australian entities currently have a license for legal operations in the country, although there are cases where several entities use one license (e.g., granted for an entire group). TAB – the state totalizer, has almost 40% market share. In second place is SportsBet, with about 34% market share. Lower positions are occupied by international brands: Bet365, Betfair, or Unibet.
It is no surprise that this branch of the iGaming industry in Australia brings the highest profits. In 2022, the revenue generated by the betting industry (including horse racing) was about 6 billion dollars. Although the pace of market development has definitely slowed down, revenues year by year reach record amounts, noting an increase of several percent year over year.
Interestingly, studies conducted on groups of regular betting players showed that 70% of them work full time, and more than half (55%) earn higher than the national average, which in 2022 was about 3260