Australian Government Considers Harsh Stance on Gambling

By Debra SaundersGoogle

The Australian government is known for its opposition to online gambling.  Recently, however, the government has shown interest in reevaluating their position towards online gambling.  The Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011 has given rise to federal inquiry.  At a recent hearing on the matter, Cormac Barry, the head of Sportsbet, spoke on behalf of the online gambling industry.


The concern most-often brought up is problem gambling.  Barry clarified, to the surprise of those present, that online gambling websites actually offer more protection against problem gambling than their “brick & mortar” counterparts by employing advanced identification software and third-party involvement.  Problem gamblers use a variety of tactics to try and beat the system by opening multiple accounts simultaneously using different e-mail addresses and phone numbers.  The online software can detect similar usage patterns among different accounts, and the fraud team can look into these accounts.


Australian politicians voiced concern about the ninety-day verification period.  During this period, though players cannot withdraw money, they can still wager and loose money.  The verification period appears to be a double-edged sword; if they reduce restrictions, they open the door to problem gamblers, and if they increase restrictions, they push gamblers to unregulated casinos.


Barry agreed with the apparent need for government standards that would ensure player’s protection.  He also expressed support for a national problem gambling fund to be financed by licensed Australian casino operators.  The fund can provide support to problem gamblers as well as assist casinos in identifying them. 


To conclude the hearing, Barry brought to light evidence that shows that with the advent of online gambling, there was no visible increase in problem gambling.  Furthermore, there was no evidence to show that problem gambling was more prevalent in online casinos than land based casinos.


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