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Australians are well known for their love of gambling. Whether it’s a tried and tested platform or a top-class new casino, it’s become a favourite pastime for many residents down-under to fire up those pokies (or slots, as the rest of the world knows them) for hours and hours of fun-filled entertainment. In terms of statistic, it is suggested that close to 80% of Australians partake in some form of betting or wagering.
As ever, though, with our cherished iGaming industry, the question of legality always begs. While readers from, say, the UK don’t ever need to worry about the privilege of being able to play casino online on iPad or other devices, this isn’t always the case for other gamers. Time and again we see countries, states and regions making things difficult for the internet gambling business to succeed, even when projections suggest huge windfalls of revenue to land at authorities’ feet.
Unfortunately, it seems as though Australia have decided to take a leaf out of the US’ book rather than the UK’s when it comes to online gambling’s future. New legislation entitled the “Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016” is awaiting confirmation and about to be brought into law – and that throws up many questions for Australian punters looking to have a gamble.
Introduced by Alan Tudge, Human Services Minister, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 looks to close what is considered to be loopholes in the existing legislation outlined below. Essentially, this law would make it illegal for unlicensed operators to offer their services to Australian players. While we’ve seen a certain amount of jostling over gaming license issues appear in the EU, Australia is, of course, not included within this category – so the threat is very real.
Frustratingly, there is no actual gaming licensing system in place within Australia’s borders at this moment in time. While regions such as the Netherlands have been cracking down themselves recently, they are at least in the middle of introducing new legislation that will create a regulated market – with Sweden echoing similar sentiments. But alas, Australia doesn’t seem to be following suit.
Before the amendment bill was recently filed, the Commonwealth Governments Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001 only prevented Australian casinos from offering a platform to citizens. Thus, there was no legislation outlawing the use of overseas establishments, neither were Australians ever brought up on legal charges if they decided to head to foreign sites for their gaming.
Oh, how we’d love to hark back to these times…
Although the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 obviously managed to gather the support it needed, there was a very vocal opposition to its passing. One of those was Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats for New South Wales, describing in his Facebook post how the “nonsense must end”.
Directly referencing the UK Gambling Commission’s approach to the subject, Sen. Leyonhjelm described how effective this had been in providing a safe environment for a country’s residents who are known for their gambling enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the senator says this bill “could turn hundreds of Australians who have been betting online, without harming anyone, into our latest class of criminals”.
Here at Netent Casino, we’d never advocate for dealing in the black market or using dodgy-looking online casinos. The risks are just far too great to even consider it, so we feel desperately sorry for Australian gamers who are well and truly stuck between a rock and a hard place on the matter.
We can only hope that Australia will rush through more legislation soon which takes a more pragmatic approach to online gambling in the country.