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A Gambler's Guide to Australia in 2021

Gambler's Guide to Australia 2021

Australia has long been a tourism hotspot, renowned for its beautiful beaches, swanky hotels, and top-of-the-line casinos and resorts. Casinos in Australia are major employers in the country and draw millions of foreign tourists every year.

This year, however, times have changed. With the Covid-19 pandemic keeping borders closed and businesses shuttered, enjoying a gambling holiday in one of Australia’s glittering casinos may not be an option. So, with changing laws and limited travel, what opportunities are there for gambling in Australia in 2021?

Australia in Covid times

Currently, Australia’s borders are closed to international travellers and tourists. Since March 2020, all overseas travel is prohibited. Only Australian citizens and residents are allowed to enter the country.

This severe restriction was put in place to protect Australian citizens, but has had a substantial impact on the livelihoods of those working in the travel and hospitality sectors, including casinos.

Loss of Chinese tourism

The lack of Chinese tourism to Australia has had the largest impact on the gambling sector during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The largest influx of Chinese tourists to Australia usually comes during the Lunar New Year holiday between January-February.

The inability of tourists to visit Australia during this time in 2021 has dealt the industry a massive blow. Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said this shift could cost the tourism and gambling industries up to $4 billion, telling the Australian Financial Review, "I think this is the biggest crisis we have faced in a decade".

Travel ban & travel bubble

The travel ban has been extended to at least mid-June but Australian deputy prime minister Michael McCormack spoke about a possible travel bubble with Singapore, saying, “We are working with Singapore at the moment potentially for a bubble in July, and these are positive signs. And as the vaccine rolls out in not only Australia but in other countries as well, we will reopen more bubbles.”

Australia may not fully open its borders to international travellers until the vaccine has been widely rolled out. Health Minister Greg Hunt says the goal is to have community vaccination in Australia by October 2021.

Land-Based gambling in Australia

During most of 2020, the COVID-19 shutdown substantially reduced gambling availability in Australia. Land-based gambling venues were closed by the government as of March 26, 2020, blocking access to electronic gaming machines, casino games, keno, and retail wagering.

When sporting events were cancelled, this limited sports betting options. ‘Stay at home’ orders also lessened the public’s access to lottery retailers. Despite the closures of 2020, the new year has brought some good news for Australians who are unable to travel out of the country.

An Australian Staycation

So although foreign visitors cannot take advantage of the sights and experiences in Australia right now, locals are still able to journey interstate to enjoy their favourite gambling locales.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for the glitz and glamour of a pre-Covid world there are still spots open that gamblers can go to experience the thrill and entertainments of in-person gambling. Aquis Entertainment’s Casino Canberra is just one of the options available. Casino Canberra is now open daily from noon to 4 AM.

Travelling and entertainment now have the caveat of enforced social distancing (1.5m), temperature checks on arrival, and mandatory facemasks. Other than that, the slots are still rolling and the cards are still being dealt.

The Crown Casino family is also currently open for business with shops, restaurants, spas, and the all-important casino floor. Australians love pokies and Crown Casino has these lively machines aplenty. It also offers several different venues around Australia including Perth and Melbourne, so players can simply pop into the closest casino for a bit of relaxation and gaming.

Most of the larger operations have resumed normal business but it’s always best to check your favourite venue’s website for the most current news.

It’s also worth noting that any guest will be required to add their information to the Contact Register in accordance with Australian law to help with contact tracing should an outbreak occur.

Online options for Australians

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was reported that 62% of Australians gambled online. During the last year of lockdowns and with limited land-based gambling opportunities, however, ongoing gambling among Australians increased to 78%, reported by participants.

These statistics are unsurprising, considering the number of daily activities, both work-and-entertainment related, that have moved into the digital sphere.

Online casino operators definitely anticipated the shift and, once Covid hit, most online casinos took notice and upped their game. There is a wide variety of options for online players, either directly through a mobile device or PC, offering the same games as any brick and mortar casino right from the comfort of your home.

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