Calls For Tougher Online Gambling Controls In Australia

Editorial suggests ways in which enforcement and control can be stiffened

Prompted by cheating in sports horror stories recently, the Sydney Morning Herald editorial column argued Tuesday that a federal regulatory regime to control the booming and competitive Australian online gambling sector is needed.
The editorial references the review of the Interactive Gaming Act helmed by former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell and comments:
"At its core, the inquiry is really about loosening regulations on the online operations of Australian gambling houses. More specifically, whether Australian betting companies should be permitted to accept "in-play" bets online during live games, currently banned under the legislation but extremely popular with punters. Gambling on sporting events that are under way is only permitted at TABs or by telephone.
"But offshore online betting houses are outside the jurisdiction of Australia's Interactive Gambling Act and can accept such bets from Australians."
The piece notes that there is a sense that the review has been "captured by vested interests" and that governments, sporting organisations and media companies remain major beneficiaries of the revenue and advertising generated by sports wagering.
It claims that Aussie gamblers are among the most avid in the world, and annually lose A$21 billion, with A$4.6 billion a year spent on sports betting – A$2.75 billion of it online.
The editorial suggests that if in-play betting is allowed to continue, it should be the subject of far tighter regulation, and offers a few ideas on how this might be achieved:
* Federal government regulation (instead of individual provinces) to ensure that the industry is fairly and evenly taxed and unlicensed operators are excluded;
* To curb match-fixing at grass roots, a limit on the range of micro-bets and the kinds of sporting events that can attract betting. For example, junior tennis matches and suburban football tournaments should no longer be subject to betting;
* Advertising for gambling should be restricted to programs after 8.30pm and punters prevented from betting on credit. Gamblers should be required to nominate the amount they are prepared to lose;
* Strict enforcement action against unlicensed offshore operators, including financial transaction restrictions and ISP blocking.

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