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A changing gaming culture

Australians have always liked a bet. Like a love of sport, barbeques and cold beer, there is something innately Australian about the occasional flutter. Some of the most liberal regulations concerning gambling enable Aussies to be the most consistently enthusiastic gamblers anywhere. But the gambling world is currently experiencing dramatic change.

The advent of online gaming is having a profound effect, with money that was once destined for the racetrack or the pools increasingly being spent online instead. Government statistics show that what is in effect ‘new’ money is also being wagered. And what is happening in Oz is indicative of the broader global picture.

Whilst the Australian market is growing at around 5% annually the online sector has been growing by over 30% - figures which are broadly in line with what is happening elsewhere. In effect, there is a steady migration of gambling away from traditional bricks-and-mortar settings and towards online offerings.

Perhaps not surprisingly, older punters are not always entirely at home in cyberspace. This has seen a secondary industry has grown up around the servicing of punters who lack the experience or the technical know-how to navigate their way around the online marketplace.


Providers such as the online casino blue book (OCBB AU) and now provide not only competitive comparisons of different providers - measuring pay out rates, and assessing the overall quality of user experience - but also offer tutorials and strategy guides for those not already familiar with the intricacies of the games on offer. Evidently, OCBB AU and their ilk are filling a need that goes beyond simple introductory hand-holding.

The reduction in revenues in some traditional gaming sectors is quite striking. For example, figures released annually by the Australian Gambling Commission show a dramatic collapse in the on-course Totaliser. Measured in terms of the amount of Government revenue accrued the figures show a reduction from $101.692 million in 1987-88 to just $7.519 million in 2012-2013. Over the same period the lottery take reduced from $142.56 million to $91.163 million.

There are, inevitably, political as well as purely market consequences of this sort of disruption to an industry that has historically been a valuable source of tax revenues. It is not just the punters who are having to get used to a whole new gaming culture. But for the politicians as much as the organizations whose business models are being challenged by the turn to mobile gaming, there is no equivalent to the help offered to gamers by the likes of the OCBB AU. With such dramatic changes taking place, taking a punt on the future shape of the Australian gaming industry is anything but straightforward.

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