Failed Moratorium Leaves Cheers and Fears in Gambling Industry

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] The Federal Government’s proposed 12 month ban on all new online gambling sites and services has been shelved for the time being, after the moratorium was defeated Monday night in the Senate.

The ban, which was back dated to last May, would have prevented state and territory governments from licensing new Internet gambling businesses (see story).

The defeat of the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Bill has left some pleased faces among online operators, however the Government may still pursue a total Internet gambling ban, says the Internet Industry Association (IIA).

In spite of the moratorium’s failure, IIA executive director Peter Coroneos said that the very prospect of a ban may undermine business opportunities in the Internet industry in Australia, a fear the IIA has expressed since debate on online gambling began in parliament.

The Government has made no secret of its desire to issue a cart blanche ban on Internet gambling, and the moratorium was designed to bring the industry growth to a halt, while the Government investigated the logistics of such a ban.

“The risk is that promoting even the possibility of an online ban will undermine industry confidence at a time when we are most in need of reassurance, as well as deter international investment in Australian broadband services,” said Coroneos of the ever-simmering debate over a ban. “Our message is ‘regulate, don’t ban’. Australian sites are already internationally recognized as being the most reputable and well controlled anywhere in the world. It makes more sense to build on that reputation, rather to deny it and force players into the hands of questionable operations offshore.”

“Even with a ban, Australians would still have access to approximately 1000 global online gaming sites, most of which are unregulated and do not protect players’ interests,” said Lasseters Holdings managing director Peter Bridge.

Bridge added that the defeat of the moratorium now leaves the state and federal governments at a crossroads, where the Federal Government can pursue a ban, or it can work with state and territory legislators to maintain and develop regulatory controls. State and territory governments have differed with the Federal Government on the best way to control online gambling even before the moratorium was announced.

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