In a move aimed at safeguarding the country’s youth from the allure of gambling-like video games, the Australian government has announced a series of more stringent measures. These measures come as a response to growing concerns over the potential harm posed by such games, particularly to children and adolescents. Since some of these video games may very well be reminiscent of age-appropriate gamblers who like to play online pokies with no deposit free spins, keeping in mind the specific target audience is of the essence.

Mandatory Minimum Classifications On The Horizon

It was announced that starting from September 2024, mandatory minimum classifications will be assigned to video games containing gambling-like elements. This decision follows unanimous agreement among all Australian states and territories to update the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games in 2023.

Under the new regulations, video games that offer in-game purchases tied to elements of chance, such as paid loot boxes, will receive a minimum classification of M. In the Australian classification system, M stands for ‘mature,’ indicating that these games are not suitable for children under the age of 15.

Additionally, computer games that involve simulated gambling, including social casino games, will be restricted to adults only. These games will be given a minimum classification of R18+.

A Government Decision To Protect Children Backed By Research

The government’s decision to implement these measures was informed by recent research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. This research found that young people who engage in simulated gambling games are 40% more likely to spend real money on gambling when they reach young adulthood.

The government emphasized that these changes were made after thorough consultation with various stakeholders, including industry representatives, community groups, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and the Classification Board.

Michelle Rowland MP, the minister for communications, underscored the government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable Australians, especially children, from the potential harms of gambling through video games. She explained that the research carried out had shown that children exposed to gambling-like content were more susceptible to gambling hard later in life, and for this reason, the government advocated for early intervention to keep children safe. 

Rowland also highlighted that these changes are part of a broader effort to modernize the National Classification Scheme, enabling Australians to make informed decisions about the media and games they consume.

Australia’s Broader Battle Against Gambling Harm

This latest announcement is not a stand-alone initiative but part of a much wider series of measures implemented by the Australian government to address gambling-related harm in the country.

One recent initiative is the ban on the use of credit cards for online wagering. The government introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, which seeks to extend the existing ban on credit card gambling at land-based casinos to the online realm, covering not only credit cards but also digital currencies.

The government has also taken steps to improve responsible gambling messaging by introducing evidence-based taglines. These new messages aim to enhance public awareness of the risks associated with gambling.

To further empower consumers to take accountability for their own practices, the BetStop national self-exclusion register has been established. This allows individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling activities with all Australian licensees, ranging from three months to a lifetime.

In addition to these measures, the government is preparing to implement mandatory customer pre-verification requirements whereby all licensed operators will be required to verify a customer’s identity before they can register for a new account or place a bet, enhancing the protection of vulnerable individuals from the potential harms of online gambling.

It is clear that the Australian government have acknowledged the broad and nuanced nature of gambling harms. With these comprehensive steps, it is evident that they are taking proactive measures to ensure the well-being of its citizens, particularly the future generation, by addressing the risks posed by gambling-like video games and online wagering.