- »Aussies Continue Upswing in Online Casino Gambling
Aussies Continue Upswing in Online Casino Gambling
A recent study by the New Zealand Health Promotion Agency showed that gambling did slightly increase for some people during the recent coronavirus lockdown. However, the largest percentage of people gambled less than usual during the lockdown. With only 9% of the overall population gambling more, half of those surveyed gambled less.
In addition, while 12% of New Zealanders who gambled online did so more than usual, only 8% tried it for the first time during the pandemic stay-at-home orders.
Overall, the numbers were not nearly as significant as in other parts of the world.
The numbers coming out of Australia, though, tell a different story.
Tracking Online Gambling for Aussies
Analytics consulting firm AlphaBeta Australia has been partnering with credit bureau Illion to track the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian economy. The economists have been studying the data to ultimately produce reports on the impact of the pandemic to learn lessons and help revive the economy.
The data covers five primary sectors:
- Consumer spending
- Consumer spending by category
- Consumer credit volumes
- Consumer financial distress
- Industry financial distress
The numbers used to build the charts are based on weekly samples of the transactions of approximately 250,000 Australian customers.
Online Gambling Up and Up
The first week of the shutdown in Australia that included the closure of casinos, clubs, and other venues with access to gambling saw online gambling participation rise 67%.
The most recent data covers the period of April 27 through May 3, and this shows a continuous rise. This week was 142% higher than a normal week before the pandemic. This is in sharp contrast to the 71% above-normal number from the previous week.
Some of the rise in spending on gambling may be attributed to the distribution of the coronavirus supplement via the doubling of unemployment benefits and a youth allowance.
However, the online gambling surge of 142% above normal was second only to food delivery, which was up 213%. Just below online gambling was furniture and office spending, which was up 138% over normal numbers.
The fuller picture can be analyzed more thoroughly in future months, after casinos and pubs reopen and people begin to feel comfortable in their old routines. This data, however, will be invaluable in determining gambling trends.
More Gamblers Reach for Help
According to SBS News, larger numbers of people are seeking services to help with gambling issues. This surprised some because live gambling options were reduced so significantly, but online gambling is still available. It may not be sanctioned by the Australian government, but Aussies have broad access to online poker, casino games, and other forms of online betting.
Cairnmillar Institute Clinical Services Director Mandy Taylor spoke with SBS News about the increase, saying that some of the new clients haven’t been fitting the traditional profile of a problem gambler.
That is likely due to the unprecedented times in which Aussies live. The pandemic and resulting societal shutdown are unprecedented in modern history, especially for Australia. Taylor said as much:
“People gamble more when times are really good, and they also gamble more when times are really bad. When they have no income and they are really desperate for money, in terms of financial hardship in the community, we are really seeing that align with problem gambling right now.”
Free Virtual Services
The Cairnmillar Institute is a nonprofit organization promoting the goal of health through psychological services. In its 60-year history, Cairnmillar has grown to offer clinical services at locations in Dandenong, Hawthron, and North Melbourne. The specialties of their higher education programs are psychology, counselling, and psychotherapy.
When the pandemic hit Australia, Cairmillar Community Clinics announced free virtual counselling online. Anyone from anywhere in Australia was able to receive counseling from provisionally-registered postgraduate psychologists.
In normal times, Cairnmillar Clinics focus on the entirety of the problem with gambling. People must commit to a six-week process of cognitive behaviour therapy that uses evidence-based treatment methods.
Currently, the free online telehealth sessions are offered to replace the usual in-person sessions. Not only is social distancing still in order, the surge in demand for gambling help dictates telehealth sessions for the time being.
Taylor said that assistance with gambling problems helps. She told SBS News that without support, more people would experience increased rates of gambling harm during this unusual pandemic period.
Anyone wanting to contact Cairnmillar for a telehealth appointment can find details on this page of its website.