Australia in Focus – Australian Gaming Expo


The Australian Gaming Expo is taking its turn in the digital spotlight this month, moving its annual event online due to the Covid-19 epidemic

Asia Gaming Brief is once again providing content for the seminar series of the event and our focus section for this magazine is dedicated to all things Australian.

The country tackled the first wave of the epidemic with relative success, with far fewer cases and deaths than many other developed nations. However, the damage to the economy and to the tourism industry has been significant, with the gross domestic product shrinking 7 percent in the second quarter, the fastest pace in history. The budget deficit this year will be the biggest since the Second World War as the government spends billions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

The Tourism Transport Forum estimates the industry has been losing $10 billion a month, with the country’s borders closed to international travellers.

Pubs and clubs have now reopened in much of the country, though Victoria was forced to close down again due to a second wave. Our first article in this section takes a look at the reopening experience, which at the first blush has been more positive than expected. However, as government subsidies wind down, venues are expecting business to slow.

In our second piece, Julian Hoskins, a principal at law firm Senet airs the view that it may be time for Australia to rethink its online gaming ban. Statistics show a sharp increase in Aussie punters gambling online anyway during the pandemic, so allowing some form of regulated access may help protect consumers from illegal offshore operators. It would also make it easier for the government to monitor the situation and mitigate any possible gambling harm.

Also in this section, Sudhir Kale, founder and principal of GamePlan Consults runs through his ideas on how to successfully restart the casino motors. After such a prolonged break, he argues that it’s best to treat the process like a start-up. Managers will need to be nimble and reactive and shouldn’t just rely on previous practices when navigating the choppy Covid waters.

Lastly in this section, we study the impact of the pandemic on problem gambling rates.

Leading gambling harm researchers Sally Gainsbury and Alex Blaszczynski assess whether the stress from the current situation is leading to a spike in gambling addiction, or whether lack of access to pokies is helping to press the reset button amongst some gamblers with risky behaviour.