Australia is a flourishing gambling market, in danger

Over the past few years, Australia has managed to impress many a person with how much the citizens of the continental country actually gamble. In the recent estimates, it has been concluded that around 70% of the country’s adult population gambles at one point or another throughout the year. Some of them decide to dedicate major chunks of their time gambling with “pokies”, also known as slots machines or fruit machines. And the numbers reflect this, easily.

If 70% is gambling, then it is not surprising that around 200 billion US dollars have been wagered, bet or somehow gambled in the year 2016 and 2017. And if these statistics don’t show you how large and how full of potential the market is, then I don’t know what can do that for you. The Australian slot machines might be the most popular game type on the continent, but it is not the only one. Poker, sports betting and other types of games all have proven to be very popular with the citizens of Australia.

And yet, there is danger. And yet, despite the fact that the market is so large and so full of life, there is a danger to it. A looming cloud of legislation has gathered above the world of Australian gambling, and it is about to let loose some of the wildest storms in the history of regulation. Policy makers are seeing the gambling more and more as a problem and a drain on the economy rather than a way for it to stay alive. With the recent advent of online gambling, they are seeing more and more companies take the money they make from letting their users enjoy their games, and take them offshore. They are seeing this as a detriment to the economy and are hoping to stop the drain with some additional legislation imposed on the industry, beyond that which they imposed in 2017 on the industry and 2018 on the advertising related to the industry.

Self imposed problem

And yet, it is an ironic act to be hoping that additional legislation is going to be solving the problem. The thing is, the legislative reform that was introduced in 2017 included a provision that prevented local online casinos, based in Australia, from offering their services to clients within Australia. This means that any company that had previously existed within the borders of the country had to stop their operation and either relocate or find something else to do. It also means that all online casinos operating within the borders of the country are foreign casinos. And when they operate within the borders of Australia, with a large number of users losing to the casinos, and they end up taking away the revenue to a country other than Australia, it is not surprising. A foreign company operating within Australian borders will do that, and it will make sense since they are a foreign company.

It is a problem that Australian legislators created for themselves and for the country, all on their own. And now, with them wanting to introduce new legislation in order to curtail the drain of money from the country and the gambling problems they are talking so much about, it is impossible to not make fun of them. But at the same time, it is impossible to not also be fearful for the future of the industry.

More regulation means a dangerous industry

The more regulation you introduce on certain things that people love doing, the more likely they are to skirt these regulations in order to get what they want. As a result, you get people breaking the law on both sides. There will always be a supply of what everyone wants, and there will always be those who risk everything in order to get what they want. And while there will be honest online casinos (if they are altogether prohibited) there will also be those casinos that are simply scams, existing outside of the regulatory field and taking people’s money, without repercussions.

The number of scam casinos in 2018 rose by a very high amount. Reports state that scam casino resulted in millions of dollars being lost, without a trace. These scam casinos pretended to be casinos licensed abroad and peddled to clients who wanted to play with cryptocurrencies, which became untraceable once transferred to the scam casinos. What is going to stop additional scam casinos from appearing if additional legislation restricts the existence of honest casinos? Nothing.

This is why the better way of going about this would be a change in legislation, instead of adding legislation. Altering legislation to accommodate the online gambling industry, so that users would be able to do so with Australian companies, that were regulated by local authorities would make the industry that much more safe. And while there might still be those who end up losing money, the money will be staying within the economy of the country, as the casinos will be operated by local companies, instead of international ones. A tweak to regulations will result in positive outcomes for all sides, while additional regulation will only damage the entirety of the country. The only way to go about this is the smart way.

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