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Australia’s poker venues take hit

Poker in Australia

Australia is one of the most developed nations on earth. The country’s economy has gone through a major transformation throughout the second half of the 20th century, making it one of the most competitive globally. The nation exports goods and services, including fossil fuels and is often criticized for being unsustainable and lagging behind the path towards reaching the Paris Agreement goals by 2030.

Except for the physical exports of metals and fossil fuels, the Australian economy is widely driven by the service sector. Just like any developed, post-industrial economy, Australia also has an advanced financial and education systems. The country’s higher educational institutions bring billions of dollars to the economy from tuition fees and other expenses from international students.

The gambling industry represents one of the rapidly growing sectors of Australia. Nation’s casinos have established themselves as some of the best globally. As a result. Many fortunate individuals travel from overseas to play at Australia’s iconic venues. The super-rich from Eastern Asia, particularly from mainland China are more and more likely to prefer Australian poker venues over those of Macau and other nearby spots.

Importantly, gambling, particularly Australian live casino games as well as physical poker venues, are expanding in rural and more peripheral areas of the country. Experts say that the industry is targeting tired, busy commuters from suburban sprawls of major metropolitan areas. One of such is Casey South-East of Melbourne, Victoria’s vibrant capital, which is set to get 100 new poker machines shortly. Players in the area are said to be spending over $362,000 each day. Moreover, online poker games are gaining momentum in public. An increasing number of people find online platforms more convenient than visiting a physical branch.

Despite the growth of local players and their spending on gambling, the industry still relies on international visitors from overseas, especially from China. Major poker venues in downtown Sydney or Melbourne sometimes make millions each day as the super-rich visit their facilities.

In general, there has been a lot of controversy over the fact that the Australian economy is too dependant on China. Over 30% of the country’s exports go to China while the majority of international visitors to Australia are also from there. Chinese visitors spend over $11 billion each year, making them a crucial part of the country’s tourism industry. Moreover, the absolute majority of international students at some of the top higher educational institutions in Australia are from China. Such universities are mainly based in major cities, such as Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourn, and Perth.

The dependence on China and its visitors are already resulting in the economic shockwave following the novel coronavirus outbreak. The spread of a deadly virus has already affected hundreds of millions around the world. In China, where over 700 million people have been affected by lockdowns in some way, the situation is particularly tragic. International travel has been restricted at first from China’s Hubei province followed by the nationwide ban in many countries worldwide, including Australia.

In general, with or without travel restrictions in place, airlines are seeing a major fall in customers amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Following its spread in mainland China, countries around the world banned direct flights to and from major international hubs in the country. One of the first, the United Kingdom, then had to evacuate its nationals from the affected area on special flight services. Some British nationals in Wuhan, the city under lockdown, where public transport does not function anymore, we’re told to be at the city’s airport, 37km away from the center just a few hours prior to departure.

The travel chaos resulted in the global hysteria as mobility has been reduced for the first time in decades. Australia introduced a ban on entry for everyone who has traveled to mainland China in the last 14-28 days. This is already having a major impact on the country’s economy which is so dependant on China and its visitors.

The suspension of direct services between Australia and China hit the gambling industry the most. This particularly is visible and tangible for the country’s poker venues, left without international customers now dependant on local players.

As mentioned above, gambling as a means of entertainment is becoming more and more popular among locals in Australia. Poker venues are popping up in some of the most rural suburban areas, such as Casey of Melbourne. However, the immense size of the industry and its revenue is still solely driven by international visitors, of which the Chinese contribute the most.

Some foresee that iconic, major poker venues in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane might temporarily close their doors to the public due to the lack of visitors. When discussing such casinos, noting their specialization is crucial. Unlike slot machine rooms and other such venues, poker casinos in downtowns are aimed at the super-rich. Stakes here are much higher than when playing dollar at the slot machine. Along with the profit, expenses are also much larger. Maintaining state of the art, modern, central venues in major expensive cities cost a fortune. Without a sufficient number of clients, they are set to have a hard time keeping venues open.

We have long known that Australia’s dependency on China would not end well. Decades ago, China helped the country develop and become one of the richest nations on earth by utilizing its potential. However, without diversified international bonds, China remained the biggest economic partner for the nation.

The results are witnessed the most now, as the new coronavirus outbreak is threatening the entire world. China, the epicenter of the outbreak saw an immense loss itself which has lately been extended onto Australia. Educational institutions, the tourism industry, and gambling are all experiencing a steep downfall following the outbreak. With the country’s economy and its ties with China set to weaken, poker venues of Australia, the industry greatly dependant on international visits is also expected to take a hit. It is difficult to project when and how will the industry recover, but as the outbreak continues to spread around the world, estimates are yet blurred and hard to read.

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