New Gambling Law Proposal Rejected by Australian Government

During October, 2009, the Australian productivity Commission called on the Australian government to repeal the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act which is very restrictive and presently only allows government-approved providers to legally provide Internet poker, casino gaming and sports betting in Australia. This, of course, results in most Australians playing at online casinos that are based offshore which are unregulated and untaxed. An estimated $1 billion will probably be spent by Australians at these websites during 2010.

Recently Australia’s productivity Commission once again recommended that steps should be taken to liberalize Australian gambling laws and begin lifting the nation’s eight-year-old ban on online poker. The report also argued for extensive changes as it felt that the Australian Government, in consultation with state and territory governments would do well to create a process for the managed liberalization of online gaming.

However, this recommendation was once again rejected by the Federal government and Stephen Conroy, Communications Minister, reported on behalf of the current Labor Party government that they are not convinced that liberalizing online gaming will benefit the Australian community in such a way as to outweigh the risks of an increased incidence of problem gambling, particularly with the swift changes in technology.

A Brisbane-based newspaper, The Courier-Mail, reported that at present the government was more interested in discussing global regulations with other nations including the United States.

A report from the Australian Productivity Commission also recommended that a gradual approach to managed liberalization commencing with the likely safest form of online gambling, poker card games, would seem a good way forward. After evaluating the effects of this partial liberalization further liberalization could be considered.

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