The growth in Victorians’ online betting losses was driven by Covid-19 restrictions in Melbourne that led land-based casinos and gambling venues to close their doors.
Australia.- The state of Victoria has shared its Mid-Year Financial Report in which it reveals that Victorians’ losses to online bookmakers rose to over AU$1.4bn (US$1.07bn) in the second half of 2020.
Victorians’ online betting losses increased by AU$375m from the same period in 2019.
The news comes a few days after the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade reported that poker machine player losses in Northern Territory reached AU$25m (US$19.03m) in July 2020, up 52 per cent from the prior year.
The city of Melbourne spent four months locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a countermeasure that could have accelerated the transition of gamblers to online platforms.
According to the Alliance for Gambling Reform, the increase in Victorians’ losses was also fueled by an “aggressive gambling industry advertising campaign,” something the group has been fighting against.
Local media reported that Brent Jackson, chief executive of industry lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia, denied there had been an increase in gambling ads during Covid-19 lockdowns.
However, Margaret Quixley, acting executive director for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told The Age newspaper: “We knew that when [gambling] venues shut there would be a bombardment of gambling ads and that there was a real risk of this kind of outcome.”