RealTime IT News

Government Confirms Gambling Ban

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA, June 27, 2000] The Federal Government will formally introduce legislation to impose a 12 month moratorium on the introduction of new gambling services.

The legislation will be effective retrospectively from May 19, and will prevent both the introduction of new online gambling sites, and new services offered by existing providers.

Sites will also be affected by the legislation, whether or not their service targets Australians.

It will also be classified and enforced by the Federal Police as a criminal offence, with maximum penalties of AUS $1.1 million (US $650,000) per day for offending operations.

The Government intends to use this year to investigate the feasibility and consequences of a permanent ban on online gambling.

Australian State and Territory governments have continued to differ with the Federal Government on the best way to control online gambling. While the states have used regulatory practices such as licensing, taxation and constant supervision of online operations, the Federal Government has acted on the Australian Productivity Commission's report into gambling, that found Australia has among the largest gambling industries per capita.

A joint statement released by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, and Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman, said that the legislation was prompted by "the Government's concern that interactive technology has the potential to put a virtual poker machine in every home."

"This 'quantum leap' in accessibility to gambling has the potential to expand both the amount of gambling available in Australia as well as to exacerbate problem gambling.

The Government has asked the States and Territories to cooperate in its task to permanently ban online gambling, but so far the response from the states has been less than supportive. The Tasmanian Government has issued a 'notice of intention to license' for online gaming site Gocorp. This site has held a Queensland license since May 16, but the notice grants Gocorp approval to exercise another license with Tasmania when it chooses.