Instant Play: How Safe Online iGaming Works in Australia

| May 3, 2020

Casino lovers in Australia enjoy one of the safest global gaming environments. From various licensing authorities to thorough third party audits, all safety and security challenges are addressed. Currently, there are bodies like the Australian Capital Territory Gambling and Racing Commission, The Northern Territory Licensing Commission, the Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing – New South Wales, and the Tasmanian Gaming Commission. All these gaming authorities are dedicated to ensuring that you enjoy your gaming session without any worry for your safety.

The iGaming Market in 2020

With over 80% of adults in Australia participating in gambling, it is regarded as one of the countries with the highest participation rates and secure gambling platforms. It is a clear pointer to the overall market’s warm embrace by the gamblers. Gamblers enjoy their games without any worry of the tax authorities as only operators are subject to taxation.

In 2015, the Australian gambling market raked over €4 in revenues and taxes. Over the years, the figure is expected to rise owing to substantial amounts poured by the gamers. As of 2015, the ‘per adult gambling expenditure’ stood at €1029. In 2018 December, a total of $9.3 million indicating a sharp increase. In terms of regulation, the central government has delegated the duty to federal governments. They are actively removing bugs to ensure your interaction with favorite games is smooth.

Since the 2015 report that sought to review illegal offshore wagering, the Australian government continues to activate drastic measures to curb the million dollars loss in terms of tax revenue. The report noted, among other things, the significant growth of the gambling sector with over $1.4 billion gambled in successive years. The report also highlighted the emphasis that gaming companies were placed on mobile devices and home-based devices such as TV sets as opposed to the earlier desktop optimized games.  

Some of the reforms that continue to ensure a properly regulated environment for gamblers trace their origin to this report. For instance

  • The formation of the National Consumer Protection Framework in November 2018. To date, it is considered among the best national frameworks for web-based wagering
  • The operationalization of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act of 2017. The act bars unlicensed overseas companies from offering staking products to the Australian market 
  • The operationalization of some parts of the earlier Interactive Gambling Act that mandated the Australian Minister for Communications and Cyber Safety to block the rogue and unlicensed offshore gaming websites.

While at the Australian market online gaming safety, the 2019 baseline study on gaming is quite essential. The report was made public on 24th November 2019. It was titled the “National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering” The report was generated after a sample of 5,000 participants were interviewed on a range of questions.

The aim of the study included, among other things, to establish the level of online wagering penetration, the extent of risky gambling practices, and the levels of harm (if any) caused by gambling to consumers.

A majority of all the participants (over 50%) indicated they had been exposed to risk while staking over the internet. It further supported the notion of the Australian government concerning the operationalization of the National Framework. It will ensure compliance with the best global consumer protection practices.

In 2019, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) equally undertook another survey to establish the levels of gambling participation over the internet. According to the study, 21% of adults engaged in internet staking. It was a significant increase from the 2014 figure of 8%. 

According to the ACT’s survey, 13.3 % of internet gamblers wagered on lotteries, 7.7% wagered on sports or special events betting while 7.2% engaged in horse racing or greyhound racing bets. Scratch cards and keno accounted for a paltry 0.4 and 0.2%, respectively.

The participation rate in gambling activities (As a proportion of the percentage adult population) was also captured. As such, 44% of the adults had gambled on lottery, 21% on scratch cards, 14% on Greyhound and horse racing, 6% on casino while 3% had engaged in informal gambling.

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Chart: Participation in gambling activities

Drawing from the findings of such surveys and other market reports, the year 2020 is a bag full of mixed fortunes. The continuous review of various reports and recommendations has led to the adoption of the following rules that are going to shape the Aussie market in 2020.

  • All iGaming markets not legal in Australia are banned in 2020. It excludes gambles placed on virtual sports.
  • Gambling adverts during live sports events is prohibited.
  • Foreign staking companies are not allowed to operate in Australia unless they have a legal license from OZ. Any company violating this directive will have its IP address blocked, blacklisted, and could be subjected to substantial civil penalties.
  • Punters are also discouraged from betting on live sporting events while the game is underway.

Away, from the legal perspective, the year 2020 is coming with a loud bang. The scare of the novel COVID-19 is causing tremors across the entire global gambling industry. With main racing events and sports league suspended, the only option for the avid gamblers is the internet-based games. Hundreds of Australian games, from slots and table-based games to virtual horse betting and eSports, are accessible within a few clicks. Australians with the rest of the world, including the UK and Canada, play free slot machines with free spins. They usually choose no download, no registration, no deposit instant play casino slot games for fun, with bonus rounds, and other special offers. As such, play free slots no download no registration instant play without any risk of losing money. Hence, internet betting and other games become a huge surge during these trying times. It is mainly due to the partial lockdowns that have been experienced in parts of the world. As authorities continue to ensure people stay at home, gaming companies are rolling up their sleeves to ensure people are having ultimate fun while indoors. 

The Australian web-based gambling activities have gone up significantly by over two thirds since the novel COVID-19 virus started spreading at an unprecedented rate. According to the AlphaBeta records, online staking payments went up by over 67% in the closing week of March 2020. With lockdown causing the closure of all land-based casinos in Australia, gambling operators are continually exploiting new ways of availing their products and services over the internet. As such, the surge witnessed in March is likely to replicate in other months until the pandemic ends.

Major sportsbook sites are scaling down their operations as COVID-19 continues to ravage the year 2020. Events that come with betting opportunities such as horseracing are at an all-time low. Due to such happenings, Australian-based betting operators such as Tabcorp Holdings is planning to lay off over 700 workers as gambling activities dwindle.

Tabcorp, among other gambling companies, has been severely affected by the government’s decision to ban all public entertainment joints. Complicating the situation further is the suspension of many sporting leagues. Nonetheless, Tabcorp, the situation is a little bit better because the Australian racing industry continues to carry on with closed-door racing events. During such events, only staff who offer essential services are allowed.

Factors Impacting the iGaming Industry in Australia

Australian market continues to attract the attention of gambling experts and pundits. The rigorous regulation and the booming online gambling market are some of the reasons. A look into the numbers reveals that gamblers are continuously embracing mobile-based staking owing to the convenience that comes with such devices. According to the Australian 35th edition of Gambling Statistics, this is how the market looks like.

  • Between 2017 and 2018, the Australian market to expenditure increased significantly by at least 5%. The increasing gambling population thus contributed to the growth from $23.964 billion (2016-17) to $24.887 billion (2017-18). The increased uptake of mobile platforms for gambling contributes to this reality.
  • The average betting expenditure for every adult in Australia also shot up from $1,251.39 to $1,292.25 within the same period (2017-2018). It represents a 3.3% increase which is another clear pointer of increasing demand for gambling products and services in Australia.
  • Australia’s expenditure on electronic gaming machines also shot up in the period between 2017 and 2018. As such, the expenses rose from $12, 136 billion to $12,520 billion representing a 3.2 % change. Companies dealing with the production of such must continually scale up their production as the market demand continues to soar up in successive years.
  • With such positive changes in the per capita expenditures and other segments of the market, the expectation is that total spending on casino platforms will follow the trend. As such, the total casino expenditures increased by a significant 6.5% from $4.790 billion in 2017 to $5.101 in 2018.
  • Racing gambling market experienced a significant boom from 2017 to 2018. Expenditures grew from $3.313 billion to $3.547 billion indicating a sharp increase of 7.1%
  • The sports betting segment also recorded a significant growth of 16.3%. Expenditure grew from $1.062 billion to $1.235 billion. It highlights the major sporting leagues in Australia provided a huge number of betting opportunities among the Australian gamblers.

Like in other industries, sporting and betting companies always strive to consolidate the market and perhaps command the biggest share. In Australia, the growing demand for online betting causes the speed at which requests for mergers and acquisitions are placed at relevant authorities. Companies are seeking to consolidate efforts and offer the best gambling markets and experience.

In 2020, FanDuel and Flutter Entertainment (owner of Paddy Power Betfair) are set to merge with the renowned Stars Group. The request has already been placed on the desk of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The deal is only waiting for the seal of approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.

The deal became public in October 2019. According to the details, Fluffer Entertainment will retain 54.64% ownership, while 45.36% will go to the Canadian based Stars Group. After the merger, the new company will have its headquarters in Dublin while listed in the London stock exchange. The projection points out that the company will deliver pre-tax synergies cost to a tune of £140 million while serving a more extensive customer base in more than 100 global locations. The increased market share is expected to solidify the company’s capital base while at the same time, exploiting opportunities in markets such as the USA, where online gambling is relatively restricted.

Besides the Fluffer-Stars Group merger news making headlines, several reforms are also shaping up the Australian gambling industry. Here are some of the regulations and their impact that you ought to acquaint with.

  • The National Self-Exclusion Register Legislation. It came to effect on 12th December 2019. It calls for the establishment of a register for online wagering through the Royal Assent. This register allows any Australian gambler to excuse himself from any interactive wagering service, through a quick and simple process. This will boost efforts geared towards ultimate customer protection. This legislation mandates the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with a duty of procuring reputable third parties for the maintenance of the register.
  • National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering. This report is anchored on a report presented by the Minister for Families and Social Services in November 2019. The report highlights the levels of online wagering participation rates in Australia, the levels of harm that may affect the consumers of gambling products, and the prevalence of risky gambling behaviors. According to the survey report, over 50% of all the interviewed gamblers were exposed to harmful gambling risks. It informs the government’s efforts to tighten the loopholes and ensure all services are offered on a regulated and protected platform.
  • Customer Verification. The new rules adopted in February 2019 saw the reduction of new gamblers’ verification period from 90 to within 14 days. It was the first measure introduced under the guidelines of the National Framework.
  • The National Framework Announcement. It was made in November 2018 when Commonwealth made it a pronouncement on the formation of more reliable and nationally consistent consumer protection policies by the Australian gambling products providers.
  • Restrictions on Gambling advertising. According to the Broadcast and Content Reform Package, gambling adverts during live sports events are not allowed on any platform. It is meant to reduce the exposure of gambling products and services to underage children.
  • Betting restrictions and online wagering. These restrictions are based on a report by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC). Any foreign bookmaker that is not licensed in Australian is, thus, illegal to offer services in the Australian market.
  • Government’s Response to Illegal Offshore Wagering. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is mandated to crack a whip on all unlicensed offshore gambling sites in Australia. In conjunction with the relevant authorities, the body is liaising with the Internet Service Providers to deactivate the offshore websites that are not licensed.

The above developments in the Australian market are increasingly forcing operators to shift policies and operational guidelines to fit into the legal space. The issue of globalization is also playing a key role in shaping up the Australian market.

Brought about by technology, the world is now perceived to be a global village. Sites from different regions of the world are penetrating global virtual spaces in total disregard of territorial rules. Countries like Australia faced with the problem of globalization and technology are coming up with authorities to combat the virtual threat to their markets. For instance, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is increasingly using technology to bar unlicensed sites from operating in Australia’s virtual space. Equally, in the UK, GameStop is used to prevent problems related to online gambling. Under the platform, gamblers can register with certain sites and lock themselves for a period of up to 5 years (self-exclusion).

Online iGaming Market

Diverse bodies highly regulate the Australia online gaming market. Modern times have come with online markets full of gambling opportunities. Some of the online staking activities that are legal in Australia include.

  • Online casinos- games like slots, blackjack, Roulette, and Baccarat are legal on licensed sites.
  • Lottery – Equally, you can gamble your bets on licensed lottery platforms.
  • Greyhound and horse racing staking is online legal platforms such as Paddy Power and Tabcorp.
  • Sports betting and bets on live special event betting are also legal on licensed online platforms.

According to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) gambling commission, 21% of the total adult population gamblers participated in internet-based gambling. Among the internet gamblers, 13.3% engaged in lottery gambling, 7.7% in sports and special events betting, 7.2% in Greyhound, and horse racing betting. Instant tickets and keno accounted for 0.4% and 0.2% respectively.

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Chart: Gambling using the Internet

The most popular online staking and betting sites include:

  • Sportsbet – This is the most popular sports and racing betting site in Australia, 44% according to Statista data. Owned by the licensed Sportsbet Pty Ltd, this is trusted site with hundreds of betting options to choose from
  • Ubet – Formerly known as the Tatts Group, it rebranded in 2015 to acquire the current name. It is a subsidiary of Tabcorp Holdings. It enjoys the popularity of 34.9% according to Statista data for 2019. You can place bets on top sports league and racing markets on this top-notch bookmaker.
  • Ladbrokes – This is a globally known betting and online gaming site. The reputable LC limited owns it. Registered in Gibraltar, Ladbrokes offers over 500 casino games and a host of racing market bets. According to the Statista, Ladbrokes enjoyed 18.6% of the gambles and bets in Australia.
  • BetEasy- It was formerly known as CrownBets. In 2019, it enjoyed traffic of 15.5% of the gambles placed in the Australian market (Statista, 2019 data). It offers an incredible betting option for the Australian Soccer League and a host of racing events.
  • Bet365-This global betting site doubles up as an online casino and a sportsbook. It offers a range of table games and numerous sports markets such as soccer, Table Tennis, Darts, Esports, and Basketball. It has a popularity of 10.67% going by the Statista.
  • TABtouch – This is a high-end site for racing and sports betting in Australia. With loads of racing events, TABtouch enjoyed 2.5% of all sports betting and racing gambles in 2019. You can bet on games like Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, and Tennis, to mention just a few.
  • Betfair – this is a betting site owned by the reputable Betfair International Plc. With a wide range of sport betting events, Betfair is relatively popular in Australia. In 2019, the Statista records indicate Betfair enjoyed the popularity of 1.7% in the Australian market.
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Statista: Online gambling websites used in Australia 2019

Major Industry Players

The Australian market is home to some of the best gambling and betting providers. With numbers showing significant growth here are some of the leading industry players enjoying the growth dividends

Aristocrat Leisure Limited- Commonly referred to as Aristocrat, this is a household name for Australian gamers. It is known for impeccable games such as Big Red, Wild Panda, Lobstermania, and More Chili, to mention just a few. It operates in over 90 countries and licensed in 300 gaming jurisdictions. It boasts of an intellectual property cabinet with 0ver 1260 patents, 130 copyrights, and 3099 trademarks.
SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited- With the group predominantly held in New Zealand, its shares are also popular in the Australian market that accounts for 45% ownership. With incredible 4 land-based casinos in Auckland, Hamilton, Adelaide, Queenstown, it is also virtually available. With over 5,000 employees in New Zealand and Australia, HSBC Custody Nominees (Australia) Limited is the biggest Australian shareholder, which accounts for 19.92%. It offers incredible live sports betting and horse racing betting.
Star Entertainment Group – Formerly known as Echo Entertainment, this company is known for running reputable gambling platforms such as the Star Sydney, The Star Gold Coast, and Treasury Brisbane. It is about to merge with Fluffer Group on a deal that will see it control 44.36% of the merger. With investments way above $850 million across the world, this is a licensed entity where you can enjoy over 300 gambling and betting options.
Tabcorp Holdings – It is currently hitting the headlines with plans to lay off over 700 workers owing to the devastating effects of COVID-19. It is known for providing ideal horse racing and greyhound racing betting markets. It enjoys a customer base of over 3 million gamblers and 9000 plus retail outlets in Australia. More than 5000 workers serve its lottery, racing, and keno market.

Other operators with significant iGaming traffic include 

  • Betstar.com.au- it is owned by the GVC Australian Pty Ltd. Licensed by the Northern Territory region, you can bet on racing and sports markets such as table tennis, Esports, and baseball, to mention just a few.
  • Freeslotshub.com – This renowned site offers over 2000 slot games under a virtual roof. Featuring products from the likes of NetEnt, Microgaming, and Playtech among others
  • Ladbrokes.com- Another high-end gaming platform for igamers. It is operated by LC Limited, a company licensed in Gibraltar. With 500 casino games, you can also enjoy live casino section and horse racing betting.
  • Acepokies.com – Another ideal Australian pokie site. With a collection of over 500 games, it also offers incredible welcome offers and other casino bonuses. 
  • Beteasy.com.au- Formerly known as the Crownbet. It collaborates with the Australian Football league, and you can as well bet on many racing channels.

The future of the Australian iGaming Market

With figures pointing to a rosy Australian market, the government is implementing initiatives, which are aimed at streamlining the market. For instance, the government is limiting the use of credit cards for payments. This move is seen as a deterrent measure to curb addictive gambling. The self-ban/self-exclusion strategy is also meant to help gamblers control themselves from online gambling sites. Besides, the government is ensuring all unlicensed and illegal operators are stamped out of the Australian market.

The increasing margins in demand for internet-based gaming also highlight the shifting focus to mobile-oriented gaming platforms. As such, the Australian market is likely to experience a surge in gambling activities on mobile platforms such as Android smartphones, iPads, and iPhones. 

The increasing scrutiny though an excellent initiative to ensure gambler’s security is likely to see a number of foreign operators exiting the market. Operators that fail to satisfy the Australian government’s guidelines will likely be blacklisted and exit the market, leaving gamblers with relatively limited range to choose from.

In the wake of massive mergers such as the one between Fluffer Group and the Stars Group, the Australian market is set for big gambling companies in the world. It will create a legit market with incredible gambling options. Such companies are known for offering memorable betting experiences; hence when they come together, their expertise will even be better. The betting options for Australians will also increase as these companies have global footprints. 

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