Use of illegal offshore sites among online gambling activities on the rise in Australia: report

The percentage of Australians who took part in online gambling increased significantly in the first six months of 2021, the result of extensive COVID-19 lockdowns and the return of live sporting events, according to new research by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The results of ACMA’s annual consumer survey into online gambling, published this week, show that more than one in 10 (11%) Australians reported participating in online gambling at some stage in the previous six months through June 2021 – when the survey was conducted – up from 8% in 2020.

Sports betting also increased with 8% of Australians betting on sports or racing compared to 5% in 2020.

Notably, one in 20 (5%) of those who gambled online during the first half of 2021 reported using illegal offshore betting platforms, which include online poker sites as well as online casinos.

Online sports betting and race betting – both legal in Australia – were “marginally more popular” than online gaming activities like poker and casino-style table games, which remain illegal under Australia’s
Interactive Gambling Act 2001. ACMA said it has facilitated the blocking of 354 illegal gambling websites and 21 affiliate marketing sites since illegal offshore gambling rules under the Act were tightened in 2017.

The purpose of the report is to “examine the prevalence and nature of online gambling in Australia, and how this has changed in recent years,” ACMA explained. “The research provides a snapshot of online wagering in Australia at this time and how this has changed from pre-COVID years.”

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