Australian Government Balks at Expanded Online Gambling

Australian Government Balks at Expanded Online GamblingOnline gambling has made inroads in most of the world. The ability to play games on the internet gives gamblers an alternative way of playing games without having to make a trip to a brick and mortar casino. Mobile gambling has attracted a younger group of players and many have never seen the inside of a casino. In Australia online gambling is increasing in popularity and a new report submitted by Roy Morgan Research suggests that gamblers ‘down under’ are moving away from traditional at an increasing rate. The study said that most of Australia’s gambling revenues come from the popular poker machines known as ‘pokies.’

Online gambling is in a legal ‘grey area’ in Australia. Recently the government decided not to expand online gambling beyond sports betting. The action disappointed many punters that expected the government to approve online poker and in-play betting. Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced that the government will not allow the expansion of online gaming options until the government has established harm reduction and consumer protection guidelines and regulations.

The government’s review of online gambling makes 30 recommendations but all are on hold until harm reduction can be worked out. Proposals could include pre commitment technology which allows gamblers to set limits on how much they will spend and how long they will play. The purpose of pre-commitment is to help gamblers make informed decision about online gambling. Pre-commitment technology has been proposed for pokies along with targeted messages warning online gamblers when their behavior indicates signs of problem gambling. Conroy said the government has written to state and territory governments to work on coordinating online gaming laws. The government wants to avoid a hodgepodge of separate state and territorial regulations.

Other government recommendations include continuing the ban on in-play betting and expanding the ban to brick and mortar gaming venues. Other recommendations would tighten the restrictions on online credit and minimize payments to internet gambling affiliates. The Australian Communications and Media Authority would be charged with enforcement and could levy fines against unlicensed international operators. The lack of any concrete action has gambling proponents and opponents crying foul. Studies show that a large number of Australians regularly gamble online. Online pokies are the most popular game in Australia and there are a large number of online bingo players in the country. Hopefully the government can come up with regulations that will satisfy all concerned.

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