Australia Explores Regulated Internet Poker Tournaments

March 15, 2013

In a study released by the Australian government last week, regulation of online gambling as an initiative for consumer protection has been recommended.

Dubbed “Review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA)” by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), the study recommends a regulatory framework that is inclusive of the legalization of online poker tournaments be implemented. The IGA currently disallows the majority of Internet gambling forms and poker, but allows lotteries and sports betting.

The review concludes that as a result of a lack of enforcement mechanisms, the “IGA may in fact be exacerbating the risk of harm because of the high level of usage by Australians of prohibited services.”

Senator Stephen Conroy, the DBCDE Minister, responded to the review by outlining the government’s strategy for the establishment of a national standard for consumer protection and minimization of harm. He said this strategy is meant to, “… provide a consistent approach to online gambling regulation across all Australian states and territories.”

There will be set standards for the usage of credit in wagering, the limits on the inducements gaming operators offer, and the mandatory self-imposition of loss limits. The Senator stated that “the Government will not be pursuing the recommended changes relating to the trial of online tournament poker or ‘in-play’ sports wagering” until a plan of this kind is put in place.

In case the state governments do agree upon such a consistent set of policies, the federal government will be in a position to make a move towards the implementation of the framework that will enforce operators to offer services like online tournament poker, which are low risk, instead of high risk online gambling services such as online slot machines.

This legal dimension to online gambling will be accompanied by the increment of the enforcement measures against operators still unlicensed. There will be a blacklist compilation of these operators, followed by its circulation to financial institutions and Internet Service Providers.

Even with a consensus on the nationwide harm minimization initiatives, there will still be plenty of opposition likely to derail the recommendations implementation. Andrew Wilkie, a Member of Parliament, is in opposition to the report’s basic premise. He has a parallel view, “the best response is not to liberalise the Australian market, but rather to tighten it up and put in place strategies to deter Australians from accessing the dangerous offshore sites.”


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