Australian regulators ‘waking up to reality of online gambling’

Sydney, Australia,
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Australian lawmakers are tiring in their losing battle with offshore sites, says gaming consultant, Sudhir Kale – and “it’s only a matter of time” before online gambling becomes legal.

The reality of enforcing a black online gambling market is becoming ever
more apparent in Australia, says Sudhir Kale, professor of marketing and founder of GamePlan Consultants – who predicts it’s only a matter of time before the government changes tack.

What began two years ago with updates to the country’s 2001 Interactive Gambling Act spiralled into a new regime where anyone operating online casino or online poker without a licence would be barred – and potentially blacklisted. Yet without offering firms provisions for obtaining a licence the legislation effectively created a thriving black market in the world’s most gamble prone jurisdiction. While it has had the effect of driving out some of the bigger brands (such as PokerStars or 888) for whom blacklisting would jeopardise licences else- where – many still remain. For Kale, there is little evidence that the policy has done anything to stop gambling, rather it has pushed revenues underground and offshore.

The inability to enforce the ban is leading to evermore desperate measures among local governments. The country’s regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, received 108 reports of violations last year alone, across 65 distinct URLs – or which only 19 were reprimanded.
This month the state of Western Australia imposed new measures to fine, not only the offshore operator but the resident who use them, A$2,500 (US$1,800), while awarding the regulator awarded “sweeping” new powers to issue them.

However more progressive factions are reportedly considering re-liberalisation measures as a better solution. Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie is said to be keen on reversing Australia’s in-play betting ban – after reading a sports integrity report that argued it would result in less unregulated play.

With all the available evidence pointing to a ballooning black market for foreign firms, and huge opportunity costs for state treasurers – Kale says Aussie regulators might finally be “waking up to the reality of online gambling.”


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