For Rhys Wareham, a coffee industry technician from Sydney, the start of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 did not just mean staying home, but having to stop visiting the pub every afternoon to gamble on poker machines.

So he switched to a smartphone app which lets him track bets on his favorite sport, baseball, no matter where he is.

"The gambling itself doesn't stop," said Wareham, 31, who has a young child and is two-thirds of the way through paying off a $30,000-Australian-dollar ($19,968) gambling debt that bankrupted him eight years ago.