Government Won't Gamble

The final vote was 33 to 26, with Democrats Lyn Allison and John Woodley crossing the floor to vote with the government, along with independents Brian Harradine and Bob Brown. Senators Aden Ridgeway and Andrew Murray abstained from the vote, while the ALP and remaining Democrats voted against the Bill.

The moratorium was initially quashed by the Senate in October, but has been a source of contention since. The final push to launch the bill into existence came from Senator Brown, who secured a deal with Senator Richard Alston that excluded interactive wagering and sports betting from the bill.

The legislation provides for a 12-month moratorium on the introduction of new online gambling services from May 19, 2000. Senator Alston said that the bill "will enable a temporary pause in the growth of interactive gambling services in Australia while the government investigates the feasibility and consequences of banning interactive gambling services".

Alston said that the Bill was an effort to pre-empt the growth of internet gambling in Australia.

"Contrary to some silly suggestions in today's media, the government is not addressing the issue of interactive gambling because of frustration with the States over poker machines. Nor does the government consider that problem gamblers are currently concentrated on the internet. This is a demonstrably ludicrous proposition given that there are very few internet gamblers at this stage," he said.

"Rather, the moratorium on new interactive gambling services is necessary because interactive gambling using technologies like the internet, although now still in its infancy, has the capacity to deliver a 'quantum leap in accessibility' as the Productivity Commission quite rightly predicts."

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