Former New South Wales premier Barry O'Farrell to head the exercise
Australia's Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has formalised the intention of the federal government to conduct a review of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (see previous InfoPowa reports), announcing in a statement Monday that the initiative will be spearheaded by former New South Wales premier Barry O'Farrell.
"According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) online gambling is a A$1.6 billion dollar business in Australia with sixty percent of this revenue going offshore to more than 2,000 sites beyond the reach of our regulators and tax collectors," Morrison said in a statement.
"Unlike Australia's licensed operators, overseas agencies don't contribute product fees to racing and sporting bodies, do not comply with Australia's legal system and are not obligated to monitor and report suspicious betting activity.
"Illegal offshore wagering also leaves Australian punters without protection for payouts on their winnings."
The minister added that gambling addiction affects hundreds of thousands of Australians and by not properly monitoring and taxing these offshore companies, many are susceptible to losing a lot more than their money.
There are about 30 operators running legal sites in Australia, Morrison said.
"For the vast majority of Australians, having a punt [has been] part of a recreational pastime for many generations and it's part of who we are," he told reporters in Canberra. But for 2 percent of the population gambling was a major problem, affecting their families, he said.
"More than 400,000 Australians, mainly men, have gambling problems," he claimed. "These issues can affect hundreds of thousands of Australian families and the children growing up in them.
"Problem gambling can also have a significant impact on social services and welfare spending such as income support payments, financial counselling and measures to address domestic violence.
"It is critical that we undertake a serious review of the impact of these illegal offshore operations on Australian consumers as well as our racing and sports industries and identify ways in which we can work to curb these impacts. It is especially important we look at what can be done to protect individuals vulnerable to problem gambling."
Minister Morrison said the internal government review would begin immediately, with final recommendations scheduled to be submitted to parliament by December 18.
The review's terms of reference include the economic impacts of illegal sites on legal Australian businesses, international counter measures, and options to educate the public – including warnings and campaigns.
A wide range of opinions will be sought from the racing industry, professional sports, wagering organisations and state and territory governments, and the public will also be invited to participate.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa