Two Cents (and then some) from the Australian Senate

16 March 2000
The Australian states have always been viewed as the strictest of jurisdictions in terms of regulating online gambling. The Australian Senate Select Committee on Information Technologies, however, doesn't believe they're strict enough. The Committee recommended, in a 110 page report released today, several ways of improving the country's already highly elaborate regulatory policies.

"The report, "Netbets - A Review of Online Gambling in Australia," comes at the conclusion of a several-month-long inquiry into online gambling. It focuses on the problem-gambling risks of Net betting due to the activity's increasing accessibility. It also touches on fairness and the potential for organized crime. The Committee gathered much of its data from the Productivity Commission's report, which was released in December.

The Committee recommends that no new licenses are issued until several new policies are implemented. The policies include a ban on credit card betting, tighter privacy provisions, limitations on advertising and stricter measures for preventing money laundering.

Among its recommendations, the Committee wants to require online gaming sites to force players to view problem gambling information before entering. Additionally, players would have access to a chat room in which they could speak directly with a casino employee to obtain information about odds. Plus, online gambling sites would be required to donate a fixed percentage of gambling revenue to a national education campaign on gambling as well as agencies with rehab programs.

The Committee specifically considered two policies: prohibition and harm minimization. Despite the fact that the Committee is obviously concerned with the dangers of online gambling, it rejects prohibition as a solution. It recognizes that enforcement would be expensive and virtually impossible, that it would lead to consumers gambling in poorly regulated jurisdictions and that it would mean a loss of taxes and revenue. (Jon, Bob, are you guys following this?).

The Committee instead recommends the harm minimization approach by means of a "national cooperative model," and cites player protection, money laundering, privacy, security, access to minors and proof of identity as the major concerns.

In a supplementary report, senator Brian Harradine and Liberal John Tierney turn the Committees tighter-regulation approach up even a few notches more. The two legislators criticize the report for not going far enough and would like to see a five-year moratorium attached to the end of the Senate's recommended moratorium. During the five years, no operators would be permitted to offer services within Australia and there would be no online gambling through digital television, a medium that the supplementary report refers to as a "quantum leap in accessibility to gambling activities."

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.