Australia to Probe Net Gambling on a Federal Leve

8 June 1999
While the National Gambling Impact Study Committee prepares to recommend blowing Internet gaming to smithereens in the U.S., a select Senate committee in Australia, where the legislative approach toward technology and gambling falls within the realm of sanity, has resolved to conduct an inquiry into the industry.

The inquiry will entail an examination of the impacts of websites offering casino-style gambling, lottery and sports betting by the Senate Select Committee on Information Technology. The primary concern is whether children are being restricted from the sites effectively and whether there is a need for uniform legislation across the states controlling access to such sites. It will also look at the adequacy of existing state and territory regulations, and the need for federal legislation.

Committee Chair Jeannie Ferris said the inquiry would look at the nature, extent and impact of online gambling in Australia, and called it a "comprehensive assessment of a new and growing market in Australia…"

The inquiry will parallel a broader exploration--one that probes both traditional and online gambling--arranged by Australia's Productivity Commission in April 1998. Senator Ferris made a point to comment that she was "conscious of the Productivity Commission's inquiry."

Submissions will be invited from individuals and organizations before July 30 with plans for conducting the inquiry and reporting to the Senate before the end of the 1999 sittings. The committee will consider all submissions and it may invite individuals and representatives of organizations making submissions to give supporting evidence at public hearings.

All indications are that a variety of witnesses with different views will speak should there be such hearings. Thus, in contrast to the course of events for Senator Kyl's prohibition pep rallies in the U.S., persons in favor of regulation will actually be allowed to testify in person.