Modern Australian

Did the lockdown increase online gambling in Australia and the world?

  • Written by Modern Australian

The short answer to that question is a resounding yes. The lockdown caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic definitely had a strong impact on the world of online gambling. With the whole world forced to stay at home, gambling enthusiasts were hard-pressed to find solutions to satisfy their itch.

Online gambling includes online casinos, sports betting, virtual poker, and more. These activities saw a drastic spike in participation as the pandemic raged through the globe. As traffic increased on gambling platforms, so did the number of gambling platforms. The online gambling market is expected to rise to a staggering 113 billion dollars by 2025. Websites like provide ratings and rankings for players to weed out the best operators.

The industry is becoming more and more competitive and will continue to do so as the demand for these platforms is fully realized. An investigation of the factors that led to the rise of the online gambling industry during the lockdown may provide answers to this recent phenomenon.


The industry was propelled by the onslaught of regular gamblers who were stretched thin for options. Brick and mortar casinos ceased to be effective avenues for regular gamblers as the world closed itself down due to the rising pandemic.

Australia reported an uptick of 78% in the number of players switching to online gambling sites during the lockdown. The UK on the other hand reported an increase in online participation from problem gamblers.

While online avenues have made gambling more accessible, it has become a cause for concern for the rehabilitation of problem gamblers. Australia witnessed an increase of 32% in high-frequency gamblers during the pandemic.


A recent study published by the Journal of Gambling studies observed gambling habits in the UK during the pandemic. It established a vague correlation between heavy alcohol use, regular gambling, financial challenges, and online gambling. This has been most apparent in individuals working from home.

The lead author of the study believes that the loss of office spaces and the increased time spent at home may have led to regular gambling habit formation for young professionals. With more time being spent at home a large number of professionals are turning to online gambling for recreational purposes.


In a number of countries, including Australia, online sports betting is considered legal. Of all sports betting, football has been the primary sport of choice in Australia. The Australian Football League and the NRL were major shareholders of online sports bets in 2017. However, during the lockdown, Australians bet over 21 billion dollars on horse races.

Sportsbet became the top betting company for online gamblers in 2019. An astounding 45% of online gamblers in Australia have claimed to place a bet on the website at least once. The rise of platforms like this one has spurred a major online gambling revolution.


Online gambling is a fairly recent phenomenon, with the first sites being set up way back in the mid-’90s. Consequently, the laws governing these activities aren’t exactly iron clad. While countries do have laws in place for gambling, the same may not apply for the internet. Several gambling platforms have exploited loopholes to become operational.

These laws differ for each country. Australia doesn’t have a specific law code for gambling in the country. However, online gambling is regulated by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. This prohibits online casinos, in-game sports betting, etc.

Note that sports betting in the country is legal. Additionally, Australia requires betting platforms to be licensed by their government agencies. So while sports betting is steadily gaining traction online in Australia, foreign companies who want to provide these services to Australians face massive competition when applying for a license. This leads to the existing licensed platforms creating a monopoly in the market.


The lockdown led to an unprecedented spike in online gambling activities. The pandemic essentially ensured a steady influx of new and regular gamblers to the world of online gambling. Sports betting became one of the largest grossing gambling activities online. The global online gambling market was pegged at 55 billion dollars in 2020 and is only expected to rise much higher. At a CAGR of 11.3%, to be precise.

Online gambling may have skyrocketed during the lockdown and even because of it, but it doesn’t look like it is going away anytime soon.

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