Anyone who’s ever logged into an Australia online gambling site to play the pokies or spin the roulette wheel is surely aware of the new legislation circulating in Parliament. It’s a bill that seeks to amend the current laws surrounding internet wagering, and it’s building momentum faster than the tsunami of 2004.
The bill was introduced earlier this month by Human Services Minister Allan Tudge as an amendment to the 15 year old Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA). Its primary goal is to tighten restrictions for offshore online gambling operators who access the Australian market.
The bill would effectively prohibit those operators from accepting Aussies, unless they register their business in Australia and obtain the proper licence. However, since Australia restricts internet wagers to sports betting, race betting and lotteries only, registered Australia online gambling operators would not be permitted to host poker or casino games.
Mr. Tudge has lauded the amendment as a way to curb the rate of gambling addiction. He says online gambling in Australia contributes to 3x more harm than land-based pokies and sports wagers. And apparently a large number of his colleagues agree.
Tudge Gains Support For IGA Amendment
On Friday, State and Federal Ministers gathered in Melbourne for a meeting, chaired by Mr. Tudge himself, to discuss the pending proposal to control online gambling in Australia. As the room cleared, it was evident that Tudge had garnered a great deal of support for his plan; what certainly seems to be enough support to push the amendment into action.
Reports indicate that members of that meeting backed several of the key points in Tudge’s legislation. They were in favor of initializing a nation-wide self-exclusion program, as well as banning the provision and/or use of credit for wagering purpose.
They also supported the in-play betting rules in the proposal, and – of course – the stricter regulation of Australia online gambling. That piece of the plan would give the nation all the power it needs to enforce a prohibition against unregistered online gambling websites, and to pursue legal action against those who continue to accept Australian punters.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Tudge announced that the State and Federal Ministers were able to come to an agreement, and the result would be greater protections for all of Australia’s punters.
“The agreement today will pave the way for stronger protections for everyday gamblers,” said Minister Tudge.
“The rate of problem gambling in the online space is three times higher than elsewhere and online gambling is growing by 15 percent per annum.” He defined those statistics by adding, “the problems of the future are all coming from online punting unless we have better protections in place.”
Finally, he commented on the approval of his plan to promote a national self-exclusion register. He said it “will be particularly important to help people who know they are starting to get themselves into trouble. With one click, they will be able to self-exclude from all online gambling providers.”
The situation is quickly picking up steam, and has already caused some major online casino and poker operators to prepare an exit from the Australia online gambling market. PokerStars, for example, would have no reason to register and obtain a licence, since poker would be off limits if and when the bill is enacted.