Game over: Alston to prohibit online gambling

"The prohibition will apply to all gaming and wagering services, including poker machines, casino games, sports betting and lotteries, that are offered on a commercial basis over the Internet or through online delivery systems such as interactive television and advanced mobile phone technologies," Alston said.

In a proactive move to confront Australia's status as one of the world's leading problem-gambling nations, Alston said that while the legislation will stop gambling services from providing gaming locally, it will not prevent them from offering services overseas.

The regime will not place any obligation on ISPs to filter or block prohibited interactive gambling sites. "Instead, the legislation will place the onus on gambling service providers to determine whether users are physically located in Australia and if they are, to prevent them from accessing the gambling site," Alston said.

A recent National Office for the Internet Economy report that investigated the feasibility and consequences of banning interactive gambling found that the growth of interactive gambling has the potential for negative social consequences in Australia because of the greatly increased accessibility to gambling services, according to Alston.

Alston claimed that the Internet "has the potential to make every home a virtual casino".

"The regime will not apply to long-established forms of interactive gambling such as telephone betting. Nor will it apply to non-commercial activities such as office footy tipping competitions or Melbourne Cup sweeps when they are conducted over the Internet. Of course, the regime will not apply to Internet share trading."

Offshore gambling service providers will be regulated under the same complaints-based regime as online content, whereby ISPs are required to inform and make available to their customers relevant user-based filters. Alston said that it will be administered through the early identification of all overseas gambling sites, which will then be passed on to filter manufacturers.

"The regime will not result in any reduction in Internet performance. However, the Coalition government does not resile from its social responsibility to ensure that the Internet is a safe and secure place for all Australians to enjoy and to use as a beneficial social, educational and business tool," said Alston.

The minister called on the opposition and state governments to support the legislation.

Story courtesy of The Industry Standard

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