The lockdown in Australia due to the COVID-19 crisis has given gamblers an unexpected windfall.
Facilities that offer electronic gambling machines have remained closed because of restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus.
“That means that Australians are saving one billion U.S. dollars a month. And that is money that is appearing in people’s bank accounts and they are able to pay the bills and put food on the table, and for many people who are gambling heavily, this has come as a huge relief,” Tony Mohr, executive director of Alliance For Gambling Reform, said.
Australians lose more money to gambling than people living in any other country, almost 25 billion Australia dollars (about 16.3 billion U.S. dollars) a year. More than half of that money is pumped into electronic gambling machines.
“A woman at Easter had told me that she had money to buy Easter eggs for her children without trying to work out where to get the money from Saudi Arabia for the first time in years,” gambling reform advocate Anna Bardsley, who had a 10-year addiction to electronic gambling machines, said.
“The time is a huge loss to me. I’ll never get that time back and time that I could have been doing much better things, time that I should have been spending with my children. It was such a huge waste of time,” she said.
The shutdown has hit Australia’s gambling industry hard financially.
NSW Clubs, which represents more than 1200 facilities in New South Wales that offer electronic gambling machines, has reportedly estimated a loss of more than 35,000 jobs.