WARNING: Coronavirus could make Australian casinos and clubs ‘more popular but problematic’. Picture: Liam Kidston.
WARNING: Coronavirus could make Australian casinos and clubs ‘more popular but problematic’. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Feeling lucky? CQ expert’s COVID-19 gambling warning

A CENTRAL Queensland gambling expert has warned coronavirus could make Australian casinos and clubs more popular but problematic.

Even if casinos introduced reduced patron numbers and player distancing due to COVID-19, the virus can apparently live on surfaces for days.

That’s according to CQUniversity gambling researcher Dr Alex Russell, who said these venues could become even more attractive for visitors.

Dr Russell said because electronic gambling machines require constant touching, casino and club cleaners would have to be very vigilant.

“People often gamble in times of crisis, especially when there are stimulus measures,” he said.

“We saw it most recently in Townsville with the floods last year, for example, when residents were given payouts.

CQUniversity gambling researcher Dr Alex Russell. Picture: Contributed
CQUniversity gambling researcher Dr Alex Russell. Picture: Contributed

“With fewer live sports to bet on and horse racing possibly being postponed, casinos could become a more popular option. Those who need a gambling fix may turn to whatever form they can get.”

Dr Russell said this was compounded by the fact that pokies and some table games enabled patrons to settle in for a session and could serve as a coping mechanism at times of stress.

“People are mostly staying at home, but with so many places closed, some will naturally flock to places that are still open,” he said.

“Gambling may also be attractive since it offers the allure of a big win.

“Given that many will lose jobs, or businesses will go under, some may see this as a solution to their problems.”

Some casinos in Las Vegas have already closed, with a petition launched to close Crown Casino for health reasons.