More than 10% of Australians bet online at least once during the six months to June 2021, according to a new study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Looking at players’ online gambling habits in the period, the report found that overall player participation was up from 8% in 2020 as more consumers turned to online for gambling, excluding lottery.
Of those who gambled online, 44% said they did so less than monthly, 10% monthly, 10% every two weeks, 15% weekly and 14% several times a week. Some 4% of players gambled online once a day, while 2% said they played multiple times a day.
Focusing on changing player habits amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, the report found 16% of players gambled more online than before the pandemic, 6% said they played less, while 77% said their habits remained the same.
Sports betting was the most popular choice among players with 57% saying they had wagered on sport in the six months to June 2021, while 55% bet on horse racing online. About 6% of players wagered on esports, 5% on non-sports events such as elections and 3% on fantasy sports.
Some 25% of consumers who play online placed at least one in-play bet during the reporting period. However, ACMA said these findings did not distinguish between legal in-play betting on horse racing and illegal in-play wagering on other sports. Of those who placed in-play bets, 37% were aged between 18 and 44, while 12% were 45 and over.
In terms of illegal activity, just 5% of online players used an offshore, unlicensed website or app in the six-month period. Eleven per cent players aged 18-34 did so, while the figure was 2% for those 45 and over. A further 6% said they did not know where their service was located, while 89% only gambled with licensed operators.
“Our research suggests that the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia may have had some impact on participation in online gambling,” the report said. “Small but notable rises in both the prevalence and frequency of online gambling in 2021 may have been brought about by the increasing adoption of digital wagering services, along with the availability of expanded gambling features and increased betting advertising over this period.
“In addition, as Australian sporting codes returned to a more ‘normal’ schedule after the disruptions of 2020, online sports betting has bounced back and attracted new participants.”