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Australia Will Not Liberalize Online Gaming

by Mary Swire, LawAndTax-News.com, Hong Kong

28 June 2010


Australia’s Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry, has revealed that, despite the positive recommendation in the Productivity Commission Report on Gambling, the government does not intend to allow for a liberalization of online gaming.

The government has released the 2010 Productivity Commission Report into Gambling for consideration by states, territories, industry and the wider community, and has announced its support for key reforms to minimize the harm caused by problem gambling.

However, the Commission also recommended that, in consultation with state and territory governments, the federal government should amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to allow for a liberalization of online gambling, starting with allowing the provision of online poker games to Australians.

Online poker, the Commission said, along with other gambling forms currently exempted from the Interactive Gambling Act, should be subject to a regulatory regime that mandates strict probity standards and high standards of harm minimization, including prominently displayed information on account activity, as well as information on problem gambling and links to problem gambling support.

The regulatory regime should also include automated warnings of potentially harmful patterns of play; the ability to self-exclude; and the possibility to pre-commit to a certain level of gambling expenditure, with default settings applied to new accounts, and the ability for gamblers to set no limit on their spending as one of the system options (with periodic checking that this remains their preference).

The Commission also recommended that the government should monitor regularly the effectiveness of these harm minimization measures, as well as the performance of the regulator overseeing the national regulatory regime. The government should then also evaluate whether the provision of online poker card games should continue to be permitted, and whether liberalization should be extended to other online gaming forms.

However, despite the above-mentioned recommendations, Sherry confirmed that the government does not agree. It is not convinced that liberalizing online gaming would have benefits for the Australian community which would outweigh the risks of an increased incidence of problem gambling, particularly alongside rapid changes in technology.

The current prohibition on the provision of online gaming services to Australians will therefore continue to apply.

The government will now examine the regulatory approach taken by other countries with similar regulatory regimes in relation to online gaming, such as the United States. In particular, it will seek to work with other countries to investigate the possibility of a more effective multilateral regulatory regime to address this form of gambling, its social impacts and its impact on the Australian gambling industry.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining the new possibilities that offshore e-commerce open up for business, and analysing the offshore jurisdictions that have led the way in offering professional e-commerce regimes for international business, with a particular focus on e-gaming, is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report6.asp
TAGS: business | commerce | law | Australia | offshore | internet | e-commerce | gambling | offshore e-gaming | regulation

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