Australia is known to be one of the most gambler-friendly countries around. You can find poker machines in pubs and clubs all over and casinos are a popular destination. Online gambling is a different story, however.
History of Gambling Policy in Australia
Gambling policy in Australia was traditionally the responsibility of the states, rather than the Commonwealth – the Federal Government.
The Commonwealth began to take a more active interest in gambling policy when the public began to express concerns over the impact of gambling on Australian society. The Commonwealth instituted an inquiry by the Productivity Commission and this led to even more concerns.
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As online gambling began to grow, the Commonwealth found that its impacts reached further than community welfare. Online gambling created serious implications for regulatory procedures and revenue collection. Due to these concerns, the Federal Government passed legislation in the hope of preventing the potentially negative affects of online gambling.
The Interactive Gambling Act (2001)
The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) of 2001 prohibits the provision of interactive gaming services to customers in Australia. It also prohibits the advertising of interactive gambling services. The prohibition applies to all interactive gaming service providers, whether they are Australian owned or foreign or whether they are based in Australia or offshore.
The implications of the Interactive Gambling Act
The Interactive Gambling Act makes it illegal for online gambling operators to provide an interactive gambling service to customers who are physically present in Australia. It does not, however make it illegal for residents of Australia to play casino games online. In other words, the laws target the operators and not the individuals.
In addition, the law prohibits the opening of new Australian online casinos, but it does not require the closure of online casinos that were already licensed and running before the passing of the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001.
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Sports Betting in Australia
Online sports betting in Australia, unlike online casino play, remains completely legal. There are a number of state government-licensed sportsbooks currently in operation, including CentreBet, Betfair and Sportingbet. There are a few restrictions placed on in-play betting on events held inside Australia.
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The Productivity Commission Report 2010
The 2010 Productivity Commission Report has recommended to the Australian Government that they amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to allow them to liberalize online gambling.
The Productivity Commission stated that the gambling industry is an important sector in terms of the economy and that problem gambling can be tackled successfully. The Australian Government has not agreed with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations and it looks as if the current Interactive Gambling Act will remain as it is; at least for now.
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