The Australian government is set to consider a report calling for increased liberalisation of the online gambling sector, announce Gaming Club. One of the first online gaming sites, Gaming Club reports that the new legislation would not only offer Australian gamblers an increased level of consumer protection, but also a greater selection of online gaming options.
The interim report to the federal government could lead to an increase in the number of sports betting options available online, including live in-play sports betting, which is currently only legal via mobile and in person. Online poker tournaments could also be legalised as part of the proposals.
As well as recommending legalisation of in-play betting online, the report proposes linking online gaming laws to match-fixing laws, appointing the Australian Communications and Media Authority to oversee online gambling, and new harm-prevention measures, including self-exclusion from websites.
Australia’s current stance on online gambling is decidedly muddled. While it is not illegal for Australian citizens to play casino games online, it is illegal for companies to offer these services online to Australians. Revenues suggest that many Australians do play online casino games, spending an estimated AU$790 million on offshore gambling sites in 2008, with that figure now estimated at AU$1 billion per year.
Sports betting, meanwhile, is legal online, with a few exceptions, including that of live in-play betting. A nation of sports lovers, Australia’s sports betting sector has seen steady growth over the past ten years, with revenue growing to more than AU$400 million.
The interim report follows previous recommendations from the government’s independent advisory body to officially legalise and regulate online gambling in the country. In 2009, the Productivity Commission advised the government to lift its 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, which currently bans most forms of online gaming, to allow the government to benefit from the $1 billion revenues currently being spent overseas, while increasing consumer protection for Australian online gamers through regulation.
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