Australia Considering Gambling Reform

08/19/2011
By Tommie ClarkGoogle

 

The Australian Parliament has been known for its open opposition to online casinos.  Lately, however, politicians have shown signs of change in their stance on online gambling.  A government inquiry has been opened in connection with the Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011.  A hearing was recently held at which Sportsbet head Cormac Barry acted as a spokesman on behalf of the online gambling community.

 

Problem gambling is the issue most often discussed as the main concern for politicians and their constituents.  In a surprising presentation, Barry brought to light that the online casino websites apparently are better at protecting against problem gambling than even land based casinos.  Through advanced analysis technology and third party participation, the casino websites are able to identify problem gamblers even when they use tricks.  It is known that problem gamblers will open multiple accounts or use different phone numbers or e-mail addresses; the analysis technology can flag multiple accounts based on usage patterns and alert the fraud team to investigate them.

 

Another point of concern for politicians was the ninety-day period during which the verification took place.  This waiting period does not allow players to withdraw money; however, it does allow players to bet and therefore potentially loose money.  Opponents of stricter regulation say that further restrictions will push gamblers to entirely unregulated sites.  Opponents of looser regulation say that releasing the reigns will lead to worse problem gambling.

 

There was agreement between legislators and casino representatives on the need for proper government standards for ensuring the protection of players.  The plan to create a national problem gambling fund that would be funded by the licensed online casinos also received broad support.  The fund is aimed at providing problem gamblers with the support they need to treat their problem, as well as helping the casinos themselves identify problem gambling.

 

At his conclusion, Barry presented the committee members with evidence that shows that not only do online casinos not have higher rates of problem gambling than traditional “brick and mortar” casinos, but that with the start of Australian online casino gambling in 2001 there has been no increase in the percent of problem gamblers.

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