By Clyde Mooney
A Federal Government report has recommended the introduction of online gambling licenses to eligible providers, in a plan to legitimise the sector amid concerns at its rampant expansion.
The Department for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has released its review of the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001 and argues that the effectiveness of the IGA could be increased by enabling and encouraging selected online gambling service providers to become licensed.
Strict conditions are likely to be put on licences, such as the cessation of poker machine gaming and other high risk forms of gambling, offering only lower risk services such as tournament poker and lotteries.
Licenses would also include compliance with a national approach to harm minimisation and consumer protection measures, and balance with measures already in place for Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs).
The primary objective of the IGA is to reduce harm to problem gamblers and those at risk of becoming problem gamblers, but evidence suggests that the Act is making only a very minor contribution to this objective.
There are an estimated 2200 online gambling providers currently offering services to a significant and growing number of Australians, with little or no adherence to restrictions applied to on-premise forms of gambling.
Amongst other factors, the implementation of such a licensing strategy would require measures to increase awareness amongst Australian users about the risks of using prohibited online gambling providers.