Look who’s raking in the money since COVID hit

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The pandemic sent us in many positive directions to combat isolation, but it also led to a spike in online gambling.

Financial reports released by popular online betting companies show they have been raking it in, the ABC reports.

Tabcorp’s digital wagering turnover grew by 3.8 per cent in the 2019–20 financial year to $7.1 billion.

Sportsbet’s parent company, Flutter Entertainment, reported that its Australian operating profits were close to $200 million in the six months to 30 June, with online net revenue up 45 per cent in the first half of the year.

Ladbrokes parent company, GVC Holdings, also recorded a 43 per cent lift in profits over the same period.

Who is driving the surge? A study released by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) showed that men aged 18 to 34 made up 79 per cent of new account holders and that group increased its median monthly spend from $687 to $1075. The research also showed that the median amount gambled by men and women older than 34 had dropped.

Bank Australia has announced it is joining a growing list of banks that block gambling on credit products. It has written to its customers telling them that gambling transactions will not be permitted on its credit cards from 1 December.

The move will see Bank Australia join a number of Australian banks, including Macquarie Bank, Suncorp, Bank of Queensland and CUA, and international banks such as American Express and Citibank, in gambling restrictions.

Other banks including Westpac and Commonwealth Bank allow customers to opt in to a personal gambling ban.

A Bank Australia spokesperson said the decision was overwhelmingly supported by its customers and explained the move would stop its credit products being use to gamble on poker machines, online, casinos, government lotteries and horse and dog racing.

Customers would still be able to gamble with Bank Australia debit cards.

The credit block relies on information provided by merchants, including transaction codes that classify a purchase as gambling-related, Business Insider explained.

AGRC researcher Dr Rebecca Jenkinson said isolation, boredom and betting promotions were the key reasons young men gave when explaining their increased gambling spend during the pandemic.

“They reported being heavily exposed to ads and promotions, and that was often a motivation for them to gamble,” she said, adding that about 78 per cent now gambled online as opposed to 62 per cent before the pandemic.

“I don’t think we’ll see a decrease back to pre-COVID levels any time soon,” she said.

“This is still a real time of uncertainty for a lot of people. A lot of people have lost jobs and some of the motivations for online gambling, particularly among young men in his sample, haven’t gone away.”

Key findings of the AGRC report:

  • Almost one in three of the 2000 participants surveyed in June and July signed up for a new online betting account during COVID-19, and one in 20 started gambling online.
  • Even with limited access to venues, overall, participants gambled more often during COVID-19. The proportion who gambled four or more times a week increased from 23 per cent to 32 per cent.
  • Horse racing, sports betting, greyhound racing and lotto were the main products that participants gambled on before and during COVID-19.
  • 79 per cent of participants were classified as being at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling-related harm.

The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier in the year that women who received the government’s first $750 stimulus payment spent up big on food, household bills and other essentials. Male recipients spent more heavily on video games, apps, music, car-related expenses, alcohol, taxis and insurance.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Gambling Help Online on 1800 858 858

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

Do you know anyone who has turned to online gambling to keep themselves ‘entertained’ during the pandemic?

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Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    There was an earlier article about people drinking more because of COVID-19 and this article on gambling may have a similarity. What is missed is the overall picture on either drinking or gambling as the total spend on either is not shown. The online gambling has increased without a doubt as the figures show but what is needed to balance the article is to show the figures for the usual forms of gambling at venues that have been closed due to COVID-19. It may well be that the amount spent on gambling has not changed a lot when the reduced amount normally spent at venues with gambling facilities could have been offset by online gambling.

  2. 0

    Every ad break on TV has one for gambling, usually Ladbrokes. I think these ads should be banned like cigarette and alcohol ads have been. It’s no use putting at the end of the ad, gamble responsibly – I doubt many take notice of that if they are caught up in a gambling addiction. An addiction like this is just as harmful as any other and causes a great deal of stress to families.

    • 0

      Totally agree, those gambling ads on TV are a pain and should be banned

    • 0

      That’s right Tood, let’s ban EVERYTHING we personally think a ‘pain’!

    • 0

      For those who are going to cry ‘nanny state’ and similar, there is a precedent; the ban on tobacco products advertising. I would agree more readily with this gambling advertising ban if it also extended to sports sponsorships.
      I can tell you one thing for sure, if I climbed up a hill, back when I could climb up a hill, to get a view of some extortionary scenery the absolute last thing I would do is turn my back on the scenery and watch a stupid horse race on my stupid phone with those stupid looks on my face.
      If I can digress away from the subject for a moment. I despise when politicians and journalists use a ‘pub test’ as a barometer of some public policy. As if I was willing to have some half inebriated half wits deciding public policy on my behalf. No thank you.

    • 0

      Gambling is a curse on society. I am not a prude and have been known to have a flutter by for those with an addictive personality gambling is as bad as a drug addiction. It can ruin a person, break up families and the whole box and dice.

  3. 0

    Well if gambling has increased because these young men (19-34) have lost their jobs and are at home and bored, seems to me this is a good reason to extend the welfare card given they are most likely to be spending the increased jobseeker payments.

    And I wonder how many are on the jobkeeper payments at a higher rate than their usual pay? In that case if they choose to gamble it away what is the problem? To them its free money and disposable income to do with what they will.

    • 0

      And if they lose the dosh it goes mostly back to the source it came from in gambling taxes. Hate those ads on TV as well but free TV someone has to pay for and I do remember the yearly TV licence you had to have; Whitlam whacked it and so we had more ads in commercial productions. Remember PM Gorton advertising Scotch Whisky on TV and I drink whisky but do not gamble – so no objection bringing in the booze ads again from me.

  4. 0

    This is what happens when you use a virus for social engineering. A credit card is in effect an unsecured loan from the bank, and banks don’t want to lend unsecured money to losers. They want to make it. Hence the (still) obscene annual profits in spite of the virus and the economic downturn.

  5. 0

    The right choice where to play – the key to success, a good option you can find out more here. Of course, any gambler wants to make a Deposit and start playing as soon as possible, but it’s not wise to just click on the first site that comes along. After all, you are going to Deposit money, so you should carefully determine the casino that you are going to entrust it to.



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