Australia’s Northern Territory leads in poker machine gambling, report says

It is common knowledge that Australia, and its people, are among the most avid gamblers in the world. According to various reports and surveys, around four out of five Aussies have participated in one form of gambling or another… At least once in their life!

And if we really have to mention one casino game, which is synonymous with Australia, then we have to talk about slots. Down There, slots are also known as, and referred to, as “pokies”. Pokies have been a growing part of the Australian gambling industry for almost a century now. What can we say? It looks like the Aussies have developed a deep emotional bond with slots!

Pokies are less played Down There

However, a few of the recent reports suggest that the rates at which Aussies gamble are apparently dwindling. This also applies to pokies. The report was published by a leading market research company. Roy Morgan. Its Gambling Currency Report indicates that Aussies are slowly, but surely, turning away from pokie machines. The report is based on a survey in excess of a thousand Australians. The reporting period itself stretched for several weeks.

And while the overall use of pokies is declining, the ranking of individual states and territories has not changed drastically. In relation to gambling and gambling rates, that is to say! For example, the study revealed that the Northern Territory still remains a part of the country where we see the biggest demand for slots.

Amidst a trend of decline, NT is still far above the average

According to the numbers, 23.6% of Northern Territory adults have used a poker machine at least once in a three-month time period. The next two states in line, with 14.9% and 14.2%, were Queensland and New South Wales, respectively. Tasmania had a pokie participation of 13.5%, South Australia – 12.4%, Victoria – 10.6%, and Western Australia – 5%.

As explained by Michele Levine, the CEO of Roy Morgan, the trend of declining pokie participation is not entirely a recent thing. It has been going on for at least the past 18 years. She noted that over this period, the use of poker machines has effectively halved. It dropped from 4.8 to 2.4 million users nationwide.

Levine also mentioned that the Northern Territory, notwithstanding the decline, remains one of the most pokie-intensive parts of the country. Furthermore, the rates at which its residents are playing slots is almost two times higher than the national average. The figures come to 12.3%, as of now. She added that the low national average rate is due to “underwhelming” numbers in Western Australia, which currently stand at 5%.

NT leads sports betting as well

Another indicator where the Northern Territory takes the lead is sports betting. Unlike in casino gaming, and especially pokies, here we are witnessing an upward trend. According to Levine, the increase in sports betting participation has been apparent for at least a year and a half now. And here, too, the NT is a leading state, with its 15.3% average betting rate.

Next on the list comes the state of Victoria with its 10% participation, Western Australia with 9.6%, Queensland – 8.1%, South Australia – 7.4%, and finally, Tasmania, with the lowest rate of 4.7%.

At present, there are several major horse and sports betting operators in Australia. The leader, Tabcorp, has an enormous market share of 44.6%, which translates to $2.2 billion in actual numbers. Then comes Paddy Power with its 19.08% share, Racing and Wagering WA with 6.8%, and BetEasy with 5.4%. 

Recently, there were talks about Tabcorp and how some of the most famous international bookmakers are trying to buy the company out. According to speculations, the operation might come close to the $300 million mark or possibly more, if the interest continues to grow. Currently, there are two main contestants: Ladbrokes Coral and BetEasy. The first round of sales negotiations was believed to be held in October. The second – in January 2020, with the actual sale scheduled for June.

Changes in the Australian gambling industry

In short, poker machine participation is under a negative trend, but this has been the case for the last 18 years now. According to the CEO of Roy Morgan, the number of pokie players has shrunk by more than 50% over this period.

However, notwithstanding the decline, the Northern Territory maintains its lead. The rates in the state come to almost 25% when it comes to pokie participation. Its residents are also active when it comes to sports betting, making the NT number one in yet another sub-sector of gambling.

Another important development on the market is the rumored sale of Tabcorp. Two international bookmakers are thought to compete to purchase Tabcorp, Australia’s biggest sports betting company, for approximately $300 million.