You may have been presented with the slightly misleading information that pokies spending in Australia has decreased over the last year, which may be true but it does not tell the whole story. While this in itself is great news it does not exactly point to an improved gambling situation overall because there is another hugely popular form of gambling that has taken the world by storm since the 1990s and has only continued to grow. This is of course the realm of internet gambling, the popularity of which has skyrocketed worldwide and Australia is no exception. The good news is that land-based casinos are declining but online gambling is very much on the rise. It seems punters have simply moved from one medium to the next, with many people firing on both cylinders.
2010 saw the amount spent on online gambling rise to $928 million before jumping to $1.1 billion the following year. However the actual number could be higher as these statistics are only based on reports from government regulated online casinos and if all the other unregulated sites used by Australians are taken into account, that number rises exponentially. Land-based gambling has however declined, the most notable change being a decrease of pokies spending by $1 billion between 2010 and 2011 but the fact of the matter is that most of the gamblers dropping the pokies habit are probably turning their attention to the more convenient online casinos.
Such activity has not gone over the heads of the casino operators and gambling giants such as Crown Melbourne and The Star are taking various initiatives in an effort to lure back their punters, including promotions and various other forms of entertainment. The current debate surrounding gambling reforms will also probably affect the land-based operators. Some changes have already taken place, such as the banning of ATMs in pokies venues as a means to prevent gamblers spending more than they can afford at one time, and as a result it seems to have deterred a large percentage of gamblers. Ever since the ban, spending has dropped by $62 million and with further changes set to take place, the issue of pokies machines could soon become a thing of the past. But this will not put an end to problem gambling and there will still be a lot of work to do. Online gambling seems to be the new issue to deal with and it may be time for the government to redirect its attention regarding reforms.