Alston Mulls Ban Down Under

29 December 2000
Australia Communication Minister Senator Alston has revealed that if the banning of Interactive gambling in Australia proves unfeasible, then there will be a set of tough regulatory standards enacted for operators. In a leaked letter to a member of the Australian Democrats, however, he admitted that the federal government is "predisposed" to place a ban on interactive gaming.

The National Office for the Information Economy is currently conducting an inquiry into the possible consequences of outlawing interactive gaming. This inquiry will be finished next month, and the Government will then make its decision.

The Australian Government wants to outlaw interactive gaming because it is considered an extension of the casino industry that will worsen the existing social troubles associated with compulsive gambling in Australia.

Alston says that if the government decides not to place the ban, it will fund a research program dedicated to discovering the risks of problem gambling. A subsequent ad campaign will then be launched to educate the public.

Major companies in the casino industry are expected to initiate a lobbying campaign against the proposed ban. The Australian Casino Association has presented several proposed alternatives to the ban. One of these suggests is for interactive casinos in Australia to serve only foreign customers.

Chris Downy, executive director of the Association, says the ban will be useless because Australian gamblers will still be able to gamble in foreign-based virtual casinos.

A proposed ban will have to go through the Senate where opposition is expected. In addition, most states and territories of Australia are against the idea since the interactive gaming industry has the potential to earn billions of dollars.