Australians love to gamble. A majority of them wager a few dollars now and then on pokies in particular. Although all types of gambling are popular here. It is therefore easy to understand why so many gambling operators from overseas are interested in offering their services to Australians. Indeed, many of them do so at the present. However, the question of online gambling seems to have disturbed a hornet’s nest. With various governments wanting to clamp down on it, they want to be seen as dealing with the issue of ‘problem gambling’.
Online Gambling: A Controversial Issue in Australia
Online gambling is indeed a controversial issue in Australia, especially since there are many offshore operators already in the market. However, the lack of a coherent government policy on online gambling has made it difficult for online gambling service providers to remain in the market in the long term. As a matter of fact, the government is giving in to pressure from anti-gambling groups by updating its existing online gambling laws so that it can exercise more control over offshore gambling sites.
The existing laws are insufficient to cover the entirety of present day gambling operations.
Currently, the internet and, increasingly, mobile phones are used for gambling. There are fears that the gambling sites are accessed easily. This will lead to problem behaviour among vulnerable sections of the population, especially underage players. While casinos are expected to turn away players younger than 18, its obviously very difficult to monitor this.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of Australia
Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. He did this to clarify the regulatory environment for the industry. But its strict provisions have been greeted with dismay by foreign gambling operators. Therefore, many of these companies have decided to leave the Australian market.
The UK based sports betting giant William Hill has already stopped its Australian internet operations. Vera & John, the Malta based online gambling operator, has followed suit with a message to its customers that its services would no longer be available and that they could withdraw their deposits. PokerStars has also announced that its Australia operations will come to an end. This is certainly possible if the bill is passed by the legislature. Its quite evident that it does not wish to operate illegally. Keep in mind that PokerStars has much more to lose in the lucrative American poker market. This is true if its operations in Australia are termed illegal.
Online Gambling a Good Source of Revenue for Provincial Governments in Australia
Australian provincial governments do license gambling operations because this is a very good source of revenue. Besides, there is clearly heavy demand in the country for these games. People would only go to illegal operators if legal options do not exist. Therefore, it is only practical to have a proper gambling law in place. The law will take care of the needs of players and operators. It will also ensure that the exchequer also benefits from it.
It has to be admitted that many gambling operators have made use of technology to circumvent existing laws. Therefore, laws do have to be updated. Take the example of Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Its purpose was to control the number of real money games available to Australians on the internet. Also, to prevent gambling companies from advertising their services. However, the law has been flouted by many companies that offer their services to large numbers of eager Australian gamblers.
There is still a possibility that Australia will have an online gambling regime. It will no doubt help the business flourish while also taking various safety concerns into account. After all, a certain fact has become very clear from many examples in developed economies. A taxed and regulated online gambling industry is beneficial to all parties concerned.