Australia Studies Prohibition

20 July 2000
The Australian federal government is investing its interest in a new study that will examine the effectiveness of banning Internet gambling. The inquiry will explore whether a ban could be implemented as well as what the technical, social and economic consequences would be.

The study is the latest step in the oft stormy attempt by the government to institute a 12-month moratorium on the provision of new interactive gambling services Down Under. While the fed's moratorium is a result of the concern over interactive gambling becoming too large in Australia, most state and territory governments have told the federal government to "butt out" and have proceeded to hand out new licenses.

The federal government responded with an announcement June 27 that the moratorium would be legislated during Parliament's upcoming spring session and that hefty fines would be handed down to violators. (See "More Pressure from the Feds Down Under.")" Federal officials, including the National Office for the Information Economy, the Department of Family and Community Services and the Treasury, hope to put the moratorium's time to good use by investigating the topic. Submissions from interested parties are being sought, including those who have submitted materials to previous studies and have additional comments on the consequences of a ban on interactive gambling.

Officials say that a number of social consequences need to be examined as part of the investigation, including the potential for Australians to seek access to unregulated gambling sites, the need for adequate consumer advice about the risks associated with interactive gambling and an examination of how a ban on interactive gambling might contribute to a change in attitudes towards gambling more generally.

The investigation will also examine various banning options based upon player/provider transactions; Australian-hosted gambling service providers; and Australian residents' access to offshore-hosted gambling sites. Further, it will consider technical and practical considerations, potential economic impacts, potential liability and compensation issues, potential social consequences, Australia's electronic commerce strategy, legal considerations and enforcement issues.

The deadline for submissions to the study is Monday, August 14 2000. Submissions can be made electronically, preferably in MSWord format, to or by mail to Dr. Asa Masterman, National Office for the Information Economy, PO Box 2154, Canberra ACT 2601. Submissions must be marked "Interactive Gambling Study." Click here to view a pro forma with a suggested format for submissions.