ACA Stages Attempt to Stave off Prohibition Down Under

9 November 2000
While the future of the moratorium bill in Australia remains unclear, the territorial governments and the gambling industry are teaming up to offer what could be a legitimate compromise that could essentially kill a move to ban online gambling. The Australian Casino Association (ACA) has drafted a new code of practice for online gambling and is circulating the draft throughout Australia for regulators' input.

The ACA expects to release a new code "very soon." Although the code is not being released to the media yet, as the final draft continues to be worked on, along with an accompanying discussion paper, parts of the code are known.

The main elements of the proposal will include the following provisions:

  • Players must have a personal identification number.
  • Privacy is to be protected.
  • Credit gambling is banned.
  • Minors are banned.
  • Gambling help lines must be readily available.

    Some industry experts outside of Australia feel the code may just be political posturing.

    Last month the federal government failed in its attempt to ban online gambling with a moratorium bill.

    ACA executive director Chris Downy admits the proposal would be better than prohibiting the practice.

    "Regulation is far preferable to a moratorium," he said. "If we have a national code of regulation across the country that will ensure the best possible and safest gambling environment for our customers, we need to enlist it."

    The ACA is a lobbyist group, which is opposed to the moratorium, the group represents many of the traditional land-based operators in Australia but clearly has a vested interest in the online sector.

    Once the proposal made it out of committee the ACA took it to state and territory gaming ministers, a process that is still going on now.

    The Territory's gaming minister, Tim Brown, would like to see territories release the proposed model to the public in order to get community consultation. Although the public hasn't been able to give its input, Brown said government officials have responded favorably.

    "It's been very positive as far as all the officials from all the states in Australia and New Zealand," he said. "Norfolk Island in putting together a position paper."

    David Rice, director of licensing in the Northern Territory, admits there have been some delays it getting the code released to the public, but he expects it out "very soon." He also feels operators won't have much trouble adapting to it.

    "The code will largely recognize current practice in those Australian jurisdictions where online gaming has already been licensed," he said. "For the other States and Territories, there will be a set of parameters against which new applications may be assessed, licensed and regulated."

    Rice also agreed that the code would be able to show the government that the industry can police itself in the face of prohibition.

    "The greatest impact of the code will be that the Australian Government will be able to see that a unified and responsible approach has been taken by all Australian jurisdictions to the licensing of this industry," he said

    Rice feels while some in government favor a moratorium of online gambling, it really wouldn't curtail what is causing bigger problems in Australia.

    "The hope is that this will satisfy them that licensing of on-line gaming operators will have minimum impact on already high levels of harm seen to be accruing from general gambling, the latter being far less regulated," he said. "In this event, there should be no need for the moratorium bill to be reintroduced and if it is reintroduced, there will be insufficient support for its passage into law."

    Editor's Note: The above article originally stated that the code of practice was drafted by the Senate Information Technologies Committee. IGN has since learned that this is not the case and apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.