New Online Gambling Ban Considered in Australia

Calling online gambling the ”Wild West” of unregulated industries, Australian Member of Parliament (MP) Andrew Wilkie, of independent political affiliation, has called for reforms on the industry and potentially even a nationwide ban (though that extreme outcome is somewhat unlikely).

In Australia, online gambling is governed by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA), which allows certain companies to be licensed to offer Internet gambling on the Internet. Under the IGA, online betting is allowed, but Internet poker and other forms of casino gaming aren’t.

But, as with the United States’ UIGEA anti-Internet gambling law, the IGA is seen as being ineffective, with much of Australia’s estimated $1 billion annual online gambling spend going untaxed to offshore, unlicensed companies.

“Federal police have received 17 complaints since 2001 about suspected illegal operators but no charges have been laid,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We know that 30 per cent of Australians over 16 have gambled online, investing about $1 billion in 2010 – and that’s probably an underestimate,” said Sally Gainsbury of Southern Cross University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research in the West Australian. Gainsbury added that the “laws had done little to curb online gaming.”

Because of these problems, Wilkie will ask parliament for gambling reform. Wilkie is one of those politicians who target all forms of gambling as morally offensive. He calls online gambling a ”significant problem in Australia and it’s only going to get worse”.

Meanwhile, Aussie lawyer and gambling expert Jamie Nettleton is encouraging Wilkie’s actions, stating that the Internet gaming industry wants new regulations. ”History shows that prohibition doesn’t work,” Nettleton said. “Where there’s demand there’ll be supply, and it’s better for that to be regulated, so it’s controlled rather than uncontrolled.”