Australians are spending around $100 billion per annum on gambling and gaming, a result of an annual growth of 30% since 1995. In the process they lose over $10 billion per annum! Incredibly, this figure is larger than the education budget and more than double the average amount spent each year on videos, books, newspapers, magazines and CDs combined. Based on these and other figures, online gambling in Australia is estimated to be a $15 billion-a-year market (that is $2 billion more than the present yearly revenue generation of all of our current ‘cultural industries’ put together!). Most online gambling activities are taking place within the gambling industry. Internet gambling is estimated at less than 1% of total gambling. The current ban on this form of gambling will put the breaks on this potentially very lucrative market segment.
Over 60% of all gambling revenues come from gaming machines. This growth has been fuelled by a fast rollout of new poker machines and by a rush of new casinos in Canberra, Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney.
Table 1 – Gambling per state (and New Zealand)
Gambling revenue )*
New South Wales
)* excluding casino gaming in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand
(Source: International Gaming and Wagering Business 1996)
While Australia has the dubious honour of being one of the leaders in the gambling world, the same will apply to other Western and Asian markets. Regulation will be the only thing that can stop this application from becoming a ‘killer’ application. Gambling from home will take away business from casinos, hotels and clubs. Key applications for interactive TV are (horse) racing, football and other sports. Viewers will be able to place bets using a remote control, smart cards and PIN numbers.
The gambling market will stimulate growth in the interactive market in groups aged between 30 and 45 years; other characteristics are: married with children. Online gambling will take out some of the glamorised environments of casinos and clubs – often accompanied by alcohol, peer pressure and over spending. It was estimated that in 2002 there were well over 2 million interactive gamblers.
The key players in the electronic gambling market will be the lottery companies (Tattersall, Tabcorp, TAB NSW, TAB of Queensland, NSW State Lotteries). Together, these organisations have a turnover of close to $20 billion.
In 1997, NSW TAB launched iBet, the world’s first Internet-based online betting system. The service aimed not only at punters in the state of NSW, but also at betters in other Australian States as well as overseas countries.
In 1999, Coms21 combined: eBet (prev NTN Australasia), IWN Australasia, Supa-Link and a cashless games systems operation into a new company eBet. The company signed deals with New Zealand TAB, Tattslotto and Tattersalls. eBet has since won approval for its Cashless Gaming Systems to be used in NSW pubs and clubs, and the company has also expanded overseas. At the end of 2001 the company had over 6,500 users and revenues of over $6.2 million for the year. (See company profile: eBet Limited).
For online gambling regulations, see:
Australia – Broadband – Content;
Australia – Internet – Regulatory (Internet and Online).
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