With the explosion in popularity of online casinos in Australia, the country finds itself in an environment where there is a growing recognition for the increasing demand for quality legal online gambling services.
This current reality dictates that the country needs to move away from a prohibitionist approach to the regulation of the online environment in a consumer friendly way. Within this environment experts agree that consideration must be given to proposals to liberalise online gambling and for trials to be conducted in relation to online casinos in Australia.
The international law firm Addisons, experts in issues related to gambling law and regulation – specifically online gambling – says the most appropriate reform of regulations for online gambling in Australia should be a gradual managed liberalisation with strict licensing criteria. The firm, which regularly gives advice on gambling business strategies for international projects, both in-bound into Australia as well as outbound to international markets, released a report in December of 2014 titled ‘Gambling Law & Regulation’. The report is considered the authoritative word on the future of online gambling in Australia.
According to the report, most reviews conducted since the commencement of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 found that the most appropriate form of regulation for online gaming in Australia should be a managed liberalisation over time – aided by strict licensing criteria that will minimise the possible harm. The report also found that online poker was the least harmful form of online gaming.
The report quotes the finding of the Australian government’s Productivity Commission, who released a special report on gambling in June of 2010. The Productivity Commission recommended that online poker be licensed as the first step to liberalisation. A similar finding was made by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy who, in their final report in March 2013, not only agreed with the Productivity Commission but also said that a five year pilot of online tournament poker be trialled in Australia.
To understand how legislations with regards to online gambling might change Down Under, Australians need not look much further than the United Kingdom (UK) to find workable examples of regulatory frameworks. The effectiveness of overseas models, like the online casinos in the UK and even the United States, will directly impact on the accessibility of interactive gambling services for Australians. These models already provide useful examples for Australian regulators to consider as potential inclusions to the Australian regulatory model. At worst it will also provide cautionary tracks of approach in areas where regulations were not effective.
Australia is most likely to follow the UK model. It is not only a country already well versed in providing interactive gambling licenses but is also trusted by Australians. This means that as Australia move towards liberalisation of its online gambling policies, the UK model will be of great value, in particular in the medium to long term.