Sanity in Oz

19 July 1999
A month and a day after the federally appointed National Gambling Impact Study Commission released its findings and recommendations for gambling policy in the U.S., the Productivity Commission in Australia today issued a draft of its report. To sum it up briefly, the two countries are as far apart philosophically as they are physically.

Like the NGISC, the Australian commission recognizes the negative impacts of gambling, however, unlike the NGISC, it also recognizes the benefits and recommends regulation rather than prohibition. The committee's "managed liberalization" model instead emphasizes harm minimization and consumer protection.

Naturally, interactive wagering receives significant attention. In Chapter 17, the commission thoroughly examines the pros and cons of the online gambling and reiterates the need for regulation instead of prohibition, stating, "Prohibition of online gambling would reduce gambling problems associated with the internet, but would also eliminate any benefits of the technology."

Recommended guidelines would require Australian wagering sites to be licensed and subject to the same regulation as land based casinos in that country. All offshore unlicensed sites would be banned and would be dealt with under the new Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act 1999, which requires Internet service providers to block access to illegal sites upon notification of their existence.

The draft report has been issued to encourage further discussion and input from participants before the commission completes its final report in November. Public hearings on the draft will be held in September and October.

The entire report can be viewed at

To view Chapter 17 in PDF format, go to