Australia Consider Banning Social Casinos in All States

In late 2020, Andrew Wilkie, the Independent Australian Member of Parliament, launched a push to ban social casino games. He wants social gambling illegalized not just in Tasmania but across Australia. The suggestion has sparked debate among Australian government officials. Today, we will look into the likelihood of a ban on social casino games in Australia and its potential impact on the industry. As well as this, we will cover the public reaction to this news and how this will affect governmental decision making.

Australian Gambling Roulette Wheel.

Andrew Wilkie launched a plan to ban social casino games, including poker, roulette and machines. This action has split the public, causing mass controversy over the government’s decision making. ©GregMontani/Pixabay

Andrew Wilkie presented a fierce case to push this motion forward. He claimed a ban on social casino games would reduce gambling-related harm as well as psychological issues related to the activity. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced with a singular objective, to ban gambling in all its forms nationwide. So far, the bill has been successful, iGaming is prohibited across Australia, and now they wish to take it one step further.

According to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, individuals/parties found guilty of engaging with online gambling will be required to pay a hefty fine. Individuals could face a fine of up to AU$50,000 and companies as much as AU$500,000. The government has clamped down on gambling to prevent individual financial damage. This co-aligns with its campaign for mental health awareness, citing gambling as a link to numerous mental health disorders.

The bill pushes for social casino gaming reclassification as a form of gambling rather than its initial entertainment status, putting it on the same field as iGaming. Unsurprisingly this new bill has caused controversy across Australia. Plenty of people are backing it, while others claim it is a violation of their liberty.

Wilkie claims that social casinos have allowed “negative gambling actions” to thrive. Before it was banned, iGaming’s user base had increased significantly in the last few years, having crossed over from social casinos. To coincide with this suggestion, the number of gambling apps increased significantly, ‘pointsbet’ app was regularly trending in the Australian App Store during 2020.

The Psychological Aspects Explored

Casinos instill ‘the winner spirit’ in gamblers, reflecting in other facets of their lives. The more you play, the higher your confidence increases, leading to greater risk-taking and higher win/loss potential. Keep in mind this does not affect all gamblers; however, a small number are exploited due to psychological vulnerabilities. Studies such as this led to the potent attack on loot boxes in video games and the damage they cause to children who interact with them.

Casino operators also ensure that only adults have access to their offers through a rigorous identity verification system. Also, free online games allow players to place wagers without a deposit in the accounts and the chance to win real money, and gambling does have its benefits for responsible players. Betting is extremely popular in Australia, and an outright ban on social casinos would be met with negative reception across the nation.

Wilkie sees social casinos and iGaming as gambling ventures that can cause harm to participants, gamers see it as stress relief, and some as an adrenaline rush like you get from rollercoasters or horror movies. COVID-19 left plenty of people isolated, and some turned to social gambling as an escape from their grim reality. As mentioned before, gambling can be beneficial to players mental health when used responsibly.

The Reopening of Gambling Venues

While Wilkie has openly criticized the iGaming industry and the social casino sector, other Australian parliament members are pushing for the reopening of gambling venues across the country. The government are hoping this move would help stabilize the turbulent Australian economy following COVID-19’s devastating impact on global finances.

The gambling industry is a significant economic contributor, which is why parliament is pushing for the reopening of brick-and-mortar casinos as soon as possible. New South Wales residents have been able to play poker machines since June 1st. While it is only permitted in the Eastern state, the rest of the country is hopeful for a similar motion across the nation.

While life has changed significantly since the pandemic, it is now important to uphold the staples that makeup Australia’s national culture. People are looking for normality, and further restriction could ruin this fantasy. It’s still unclear whether Wilkie’s bill to ban social casinos will pass or not. While waiting for the verdict, players can still enjoy online casino games from their home.

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Australian cityscape at night.

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