Australia Legalizes Gambling Online

Foreign operators yield in excess one billion dollars per annum from Australian gamblers.

It is estimated that Australians spend close to a billion dollars per year on internet casinos based outside Australia. It’s about time that the Australian government starts taking steps to legalize internet gambling in the country. Wagering is not prohibited in Australia; however, the provision of sites to Australian punters is illegal according to the Interactive Gambling Act established in 2001.

Many Australians are lobbying for  sites based in Malta, Gibraltar and Canada to provide their services to the Australian market They also urge the federal government to offer an ISP blocking initiative which will target ‘rogue operators. Unfortunately this idea came under fire from the international community as an example of Web restriction and a solution that does not offer much.

“So far the internet gambling ban has not been very successful,” Sally Gainsbury, of Southern Cross University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research said. “We are aware of the fact that 30 percent of Australians over the age of 16 wagers at casinos, spending approximately $1 billion last year-this figure is most probably undervalued.”

She feels the current ban on e-gaming does not help at all, she explains further: “It would be in the best interest of everybody especially those who wager online if the internet casino industry is regulated. Special mechanisms should be in place that would protect players from being exploited by internet casinos. It’s important that we know who is playing, identify risk behaviour and intercede when necessary.”

Centrecare acting executive manager, Rod West (counselling) feels that problem gambling at internet casinos is on the rise, as a result of higher accessibility and younger members of the population being exposed. In its last year’s report, Productivity Commission indicated that many Australian punters are wagering at foreign based internet casinos because of restrictions. A large proportion of these foreign based sites have ill minimization features and dishonest business practices”.

“It’s far better to regulate the domestic market instead of prohibition. It would divert local players away from risky sites to ones that meet the necessary requirements as well as adhere to player safety standards. This will significantly reduce potential harm to internet gamblers as well,” the Commission stated.

Unfortunately, the present federal government discarded recommendations by the Commission; however they preferred “a steady move towards a “safe” format of internet gambling such as poker, deemed suitable.”

All is not doom and gloom, Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy who supports the Internet censorship bill, promised that he would investigate the e-gaming regulatory structures in other countries.

According to Yahoo News, Western Australia’s Racing and Gaming Minister, Terry Waldron said that the growth of internet gambling has a lot of potential to develop local markets and requested lawmakers to start implementing mechanisms to start combating the rising problem gambling.

For the last couple of years John Beagle promoted the regulation of internet poker, Beagle is an excasino consultant and former president of the Australian Casino Association said players are compelled to wager at foreign based internet casinos and spend millions of dollars overseas. He likes the idea of internet poker sites and describes it as “… a sociable game, since you’re playing against other individuals from across the globe, making use of your skills and intellect.”



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