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Mayer Brown: The History and Perspectives of Online Gambling Legalization in Australia

The journey has not been easy for GW Online Casino in Australia and other online casinos in the country. Long before you could enjoy casino games right from the palm of your hand, legislators were tangled in a motion drafting the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 which shaped the modern gambling scene in Australia.

In this blog post, we will take a quick look at how the gambling scene looks like in Australia, the legalization of online gambling, and what the future holds for gamblers in Australia. Our perspectives and legal derivatives are guided by Mayer Brown’s publications.

History of Online Gambling in Australia

While the Australian government has always been very liberal towards land-based gambling, the same can’t be said about online casinos. Since the inception of internet gambling in the early 1990s, the Australian government was always very skeptical about the idea of people playing online.

The government believed that online gambling places would reduce the government’s revenue in the form of taxes. There were fears that it would be very difficult to regulate what Aussies engaged in on the interwebs and this left a dark cloud hung over internet gambling in the country for nearly a decade until the legislators authored the Interactive Gambling Act.

IGA 2001

In the official document, the federal authority forbade internet businesses from providing Aussies with online betting. IGA 2001 says that any operator found contravening the legislation outlined in the document would be fined heavily.

Aussies were at liberty to wager and play in abroad casinos that accept international players. Online gambling operators were allowed to accept players from other countries but not Australian players.

However, the IGA doesn’t apply to sports betting. Sportsbooks are allowed to accept players to place bets online but they should place the wagers before the games kick-off.

Although the IGA was aimed at safeguarding the government’s revenue collection within Australia, its efficiency has been questioned by many as most Australians are now opting to gamble in foreign online casinos.

After the act took effect, the number of Aussies engaging in internet wagering in Australia rose exponentially. Plus, more Aussies started to gamble outside the country.

By 2006, the earnings from online gambling had risen by close to 12%. The taxes and levies collected were steadily rising at a rate of about 6% per year.

Amendments to the IGA

Later, the Senate approved several amendments to the IGA 2001 aimed to protect the interests of Aussies and the government. Some of those amendments included:

  • Ban of all forms of unlicensed gambling activities within the country. This move initiated a massive exit of key industry players from the Aussie market.
  • Ban of unauthorized foreign gambling business owners. This meant block of IPs and DNS of websites that do not have proper authorization.
  • Arranging of proper licensing channels and revenue collection. This would help streamline the process of registering and accepting new players into the industry and also make it easy to collect taxes.

What Online Gambling Looks Like Today

Today, Aussies are some of the most ardent online punters globally. Almost 80% of all Aussies are involved in some type of betting within or outside the country. According to the Australian Gambling Statistics, Aussies gambled close to $242 billion between 2017 and 2018. This number is estimated to hit $300 billion by the end of 2020.

Although a large percentage of that money was spent in sportsbooks and brick and mortar entertainment spots, a good number of Aussies love punting in online games albeit outside the country. Although it is difficult to know the exact amount each person spends online, it is estimated that the average Aussie spends about $1,000 per year on online games.

These numbers put Australia in the top 5 biggest gambling countries in the entire world. Gambling is a mature market that is very close to hitting its peak in the country.

So, what does the future hold for online gambling in Australia?

The Future of Online Gambling in Australia

For starters, we expect even more stringent measures aimed at regulating illegal online gambling within Australia. The authorities are not satisfied with the results of the existing acts and legislations and are looking for ways to get the most out of Aussies’ love for punting.

We expect the introduction of biometric data collection by online casinos to try and curb the scourge of underage gambling. The government is suggesting facial recognition which would help identify and ban accounts owned by underage children in Australia.

Word has been doing rounds on the interwebs of the government finally making it legal for online operators to accept Aussie citizens but this is a farfetched idea at the moment. While it would be a good move in terms of revenue, there is the problem of protecting the citizens from falling into the abyss of addiction.

We also expect streamlined service delivery by authorities in terms of registering new entrants into the online gambling space. This move will help the government to collect more revenue and root out unlicensed players.

Conclusion

The online gambling industry in Australia is not the most developed on paper but its contribution to the global industry is massive. Behind the scenes, there are millions of Aussies placing bets in international casinos boosting the industry massively and the numbers are expected to get bigger with time.

 


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