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Australia To Review Internet Gambling

19 December 1999

Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced last week that the federal government will established a ministerial council to investigate "the feasibility and consequences of banning internet gambling".

The announcement came as the result of the release of a report from the Productivity Commission on Australia’s gambling industries which recommended the establishment of a ministerial council on gambling to address problem gambling at a national level. The recommendation was based on concerns that broadband cable and digital television would bring internet gambling into homes 24 hours a day.

The announcement came as somewhat of a surprise with some Australian states having already embraced internet gambling by creating a regulatory structures for online sports betting and casinos, most notably the Northern Territory where online sportsbook Centrebet has been highly successful.

It is likely that any move to ban internet gambling will be met with fierce resistance by State governments who are currently responsible for gambling regulation and reliant on it for up to 12% of their annual revenue.

Regardless of any policy conclusions it makes, the council will find it difficult to come up with practical ways to implement a ban on internet gambling, as internet industry experts agree it is almost impossible to ban sites operating from offshore. US regulators are facing a similar dilemma with plans to legislate the banning of internet gambling, including blocking of offshore gambling sites, currently being considered by congress despite the protestations of the US gaming industry.


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