Why Australia Should Change Their Approach to Online Gambling

It was recently announced that Australia would start the process of re-regulating its online gambling industry, in a bid to clarify previous legislation that could best be described as ambiguous. There are suggestions that the new laws will be prohibitive, however, as Australia look set to follow America's example by cracking down on the iGaming sector.
A Look at Australia's Gambling Laws, and How They May Change

Referred to as the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, the new legislation is expected to officially prohibit all forms of online gambling apart from sports betting. For some, this represents the long overdue evolution of the Interactive Gambling Act, which was originally commissioned in 2001 and legalised the practice of sports betting. It neither prohibited nor explicitly allowed disciplines such as online poker or roulette, for example, and this is something that the new bill has been designed to correct.

While this makes sense from the perspective of time and clarity, the decision of local authorities to propose the restricting of the iGaming market does come as something as a surprise. After all, this is a marketplace that is worth billions, while its popularity almost guarantees a huge source of income that can be subsequently taxed by governments to increase public spending. Of course, the main objection to the legalisation of iGaming seems to be a moral one, but this is something that UK and European lawmakers have countered by introducing stringent regulations.

 
Is the Decision to Prohibit Online Gaming Counterproductive?

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on when appraising the iGaming marketplace, however, the decision to prohibit all forms of iGaming seems regressive and counterproductive. Even if local and national authorities have determined that they do not want to generate revenue by taxing online gambling, the notion of banning it entirely is unlikely to prevent players from indulging their favourite pastime. This is due to the presence of black market casinos in the online realm, who have the capacity to cater to the needs of Australian players while operating in an unregulated marketplace.

Ultimately, this means that players remain at the mercy of unregulated and potentially hostile operators, while Australia misses out on a potential pivotal source of tax revenue in the years ahead.

This is the argument that American lawmakers have been making for years, and Australia would probably be far better served by legalising iGaming disciplines and imposing stringent regulations as a way of controlling the market. This means that all operators would have to be fully licensed and complaint with Australian law, while the government could implement restrictions that safeguard players. Beyond this, they could also established a sizeable stream of revenue that can be scaled over time, with this capital being used to invest in infrastructure spending and crucial public spending programs.


The Last Word: Why It is Time for Australia to Follow the UK and European Model

While it is easy to see why nation's follow the American model of prohibiting iGaming, this is a flawed and counterproductive strategy that is not in the best interests of both players and the rest of society. Instead, legalising games such as online poker represents a far more progressive step, and one that can translate into numerous benefits for the country as a whole.
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