Impact of New Online Gambling Rules in Australia
Australia is a nation that is struggling with its own success, at least when it comes to gambling. In 2017, the federal and state governments raked in more than $10 billion in revenue from all forms of gambling. In total, Australian consumers spent nearly $24 billion on gambling in 2017. Researchers have noted that Australians lost more money gambling than any other country in the world. It was roughly $1,000 per person. Their next closest rivals, Singaporeans, lost $650 per person, with the United States coming in a distant third. Many people have stated that gambling has been good for the state and national economies of Australia. But, according to social welfare agencies, it has also been costly to humans.
The Australian government recently instituted new laws to regulate many different forms of gambling. It took this step in response to the outcry over the sheer amount of gambling available to Australians. The most recent changes have been to the online gaming laws. Social service agencies have lauded the changes. However, many critics have said the online gaming laws will only drive gamblers and gaming companies offshore or underground. This, in turn, deprives the Australian economy of much-needed revenue.
Online Gambling Laws
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to pass laws regarding online gambling. It passed the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, ostensibly to protect the public from the ills of online gaming. The law was instantly criticized by gaming companies that had only begun to adapt casino and poker games to online play. The law prohibited interactive gambling in the country, which meant that Australians could not participate in online gaming, in general. People could not play video poker online. They also could not play poker or other table games. Interestingly, the law did not prohibit auto racing games or sportsbooks from operating online. Sportsbooks quickly became very popular.
Gambling operators that tried to operate in the country would face fines of up to $1.1 million per day.
Although the gambling law in Australia was pretty significant, companies found ways to get around it. This is especially true for online casinos and sportsbooks that wanted to allow in-game betting. Business owners moved offshore to offer gambling, and sportsbooks allowed in-game betting via telephone.
An update to the bill closed the loopholes. It banned credit betting, online casinos, and in-betting with sportsbooks. It also threatened to report any business that violated the new law to gambling boards in other countries.
The Effects of the New Law
An immediate effect of the new law was the withdrawal of several companies from the online Australian gambling market. One of the businesses that left the industry was the largest online poker company in the world: PokerStars. William Hill has also said it intends to leave the market. The company represents one of the largest sportsbooks in the world.
The complaints and investigations involved 65 different URLs. Australian wireless companies banned and restricted these URLs. In addition, some sportsbook companies blocked wagerers from Australia from accessing their sites.
The greatest outcry against the legislation has come from online poker companies. The new law does not allow online poker. Australian legislators have stated they are going to consider legislation to allow online poker games.
In addition, preliminary figures estimate that Australian coffers have lost more than $150 million so far in online revenue from outlawed gambling. One gambling watchdog says the ban may cost the country close to $1 billion in revenue. But, it does not have a yearly figure yet.
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As an avid video poker player and lover of real money online blackjack, Thomas is the founder and guiding voice behind the Top Casino Picks community. A project manager at a London based Fortune 500 tech company, Thomas is an online casino enthusiast who founded TCP as a hobby to help other players avoid the headaches and hassles he has encountered when trying to find the best real money online casinos.
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