For years, Australia’s gambling market has been limited to land-based casinos and gaming clubs. In recent years, many countries around the world have liberated their online gambling markets, but Australia has yet to jump on the bandwagon. Politicians have resisted the idea of licensing international online casino operators – but a review of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) could change everything.
The review process began in 2011, when the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy released a discussion paper. It listed the topics that would be considered by the review, including the development of new gaming technology, problem gambling, licensing and enforcement of the IGA. It has been over a year since the discussion paper was released, and gaming experts predict that there are significant changes on the horizon.
One recommendation that was made during the review procession was a potential trial of online poker regulation. Reports state that the trial would last for five years, giving Australian politicians time to determine the social and financial impact this type of regulation would have on the community.
Online poker is usually the first step for any country looking into online gambling regulation for the first time. This is because poker is regarded as a game of skill; its definition as such makes its regulation more palatable for responsible gambling advocates.
Australia is also likely to make more changes to its online betting market. Previously, local operators were the only companies allowed to offer online betting to residents. For quite some time, only Sporting Bet and TABCORP were licensed to do so, but Australian politicians opened up the market last year by granting bet365 an online gambling license. The move resulted in a generous increase in gaming tax profits, so it is likely that more international operators will receive online sports betting licenses this year.
On the other side of the coin, the regulation of sports betting advertising is also likely to become much stricter. Over the course of the past year, responsible gambling advocates have voiced concerns about the number of commercials advertising online casinos and betting sites being aired during sports matches. They claim that these ads expose young viewers to gambling, which can lead to the development of unhealthy gambling habits later on in life. Several scholars have backed these claims, so it is likely that online betting operators like bet365 and TABCORP will have to pull some of their advertising, including live odds and even club sponsorship.