Australian Online Gambling Latest

By Debra SaundersGoogle

Online gambling has been a contentious issue for quite some time.  Government officials have been going back on forth about the possibility of reform.  Recently, a parliamentary committee was established to debate the issues and formulate a unified government policy on all issues of gambling reform.  The most recent issue to be taken up by the committee was a submission by Nick Xenophon, an independent senator, to prohibit financial institutions from performing transactions on behalf of unlicensed online gambling sites (like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the US). 

The Australian Banker’s Association opposes the idea, stating that this form of enforcement will be unsuccessful.  Members of the online gaming industry and related field experts agree with the ABA’s position.  Steven Munchenberg, the CEO of the Australian Banker’s Association, told the committee members that attacking the issue via restriction of financial interactions was the most complicated and least effective way of going about it.  He added that such measures could negatively affect a number of Australian online businesses and impair their ability to remain competitive in the online market.  A representative from Visa, the largest credit service provider in Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Visa also strongly opposes Xenophon’s suggestion.  The head of the special parliamentary committee, Andrew Wikie, said that the committee will release a report on the matter by the end of November.

Earlier in November, a group of lawmakers from the opposition put together a policy document on the issue of gambling reform.  Among the policy suggestions, the document supports increased treatment for problem gambling, a ban on credit-card deposits to online casinos, and expanding the use of self exclusion at pokie venues across Australia.  Government members are expected to finalize their decisions on reform in early 2012.

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