Gambling Spending Limits and Live Sports Bets on the Front Line in Australia

The Australian gaming industry is continuing to change. The latest moves include new spending limits for Tasmania, but loot boxes and live sports betting are also potential targets across the country.

An aerial view of Sandy Bay, Hobart, Tasmania. The Australian state is introducing mandatory spending limits on slot machines, which will be in place by 2024. (Image: Our Tasmania)

Issues surrounding Crown Resorts, Star Entertainment, and other casino operators in Australia have instigated an overhaul of land-based gaming regulations. Accusations of money laundering, negligence, and more created an environment that left legislators demanding change.

However, Australia was in the process of revamping its gambling laws even before the operators’ exploits. One of the biggest changes pertains to loss limits, and Tasmania will have new regulations in place within two years.

Controlled Consumer Spending

Beginning in 2024, Tasmanians won’t be able to spend more than AU$5,000 (US$3,348) per year on slots, according to ABC News. The state becomes the first to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment regulation, which it will enforce through a cashless payment system.

Along with the hard annual cap, there are monthly and daily limits, as well. No one can spend more than AU$100 (US$66.97) per day or AU$500 (US$334.85) per month. While the 12-month total would be AU$6,000, Tasmania established its $5K limit to supersede the others.

It will be possible for some consumers to change their limits, but to do so, they will have to prove that they can afford to spend more. Tasmanian officials haven’t explained how this process will work.

The scheme will provide those that are at the most risk of gaming harm with protection, in many cases the best, while having little impact, and I would argue no impact, on recreation or casual gamblers at all,” said Tasmanian Treasurer Michael Ferguson.

Although the limits appear to be an effort to increase responsible gambling in the state, some aren’t happy with the announcement. The Tasmanian Hospitality Association, an entity that supports hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and clubs in the state isn’t happy.

It expected the government to ban slots in non-gaming facilities and views the new measure as traitorous. The group said in a statement that the government promised to ban gambling machines when it won the 2018 election, and now accuses it of having lied.

The spending limits may be irrelevant. ABC News cites a study that shows that the average annual spend for problem gamblers in Tasmania is around AU$3,600 (US$2,412). While the average daily amount is AU$200 (US$134), the amount for the year is well below the new limit.

Loot Boxes, Live Betting Next

A few years ago, researchers in Australia determined that loot boxes might contribute to problem gambling. The items have been a standard component of video games, with the world divided on whether they constitute gambling.

Now, the country’s government is going to take a closer look at the subject. It has established an inquiry that will explore both loot boxes and live sports betting to determine whether they create an increased risk for consumers.

The inquiry is going to travel across Australia and gather feedback directly from consumers. It will also study an increase in gambling ads and the common presence of online gaming.

In addition to understanding how these activities might contribute to gambling problems, the inquiry wants to determine if it’s time to redefine the term gambling. The committee conducting the review will consider if the current definition is broad enough to cover the evolving ecosystem and the rise of social casino gaming.

Labor MP Peta Murphy, who will take part in the inquiry, emphasizes that the goal is not to develop policies to ban gambling. Instead, she says, it’s an effort to understand the role gambling plays and how the government can prevent problem gambling.

Once the committee wraps up its tour, it will finalize its report and deliver it to the government. Ultimately, it could be used to guide the development of policies, including for loot boxes and gambling advertising.

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