Gambling Policy and Regulation
E-Brief: Online Only issued March 2001; updated September
Dr Kim Jackson,
Analysis and Policy
Social Policy Group
Gambling policy in Australia has traditionally been the
responsibility of the States rather than the Commonwealth. State
and territory governments regulate and provide gambling services
and rely heavily on the ensuing revenue. However, recent
developments have seen the Commonwealth take a more active role in
this area. Public concern over the impact of gambling on Australian
society prompted the Commonwealth to institute an inquiry by the
Productivity Commission and its conclusions have fuelled further
In addition, the rapid adoption of new communications
technologies by gambling industries has attracted Commonwealth
interest, as this is an area which falls within its constitutional
responsibilities. The development of online gambling has
significant implications for regulatory mechanisms, revenue
collection and community welfare. This has prompted the Federal
Parliament to pass legislation prohibiting Australian Internet
gambling sites from providing services to Australians.
This brief provides annotated links to documents and sites on
the Internet of relevance to these developments.
Policy and Legislation
On the 16 December 1999 the Prime Minister, the Honourable John
Howard MP, released a statement
announcing Commonwealth support for a national approach to problem
gambling. This would involve the establishment of a council of
Commonwealth, State and Territory ministers to focus on the
- stopping the further expansion of gambling in Australia;
- the impact of problem gambling on families and
- Internet gambling; and
- consumer protection.
The full text of the Prime Minister's press
conference on this subject is also available.
On the 19 May 2000 the Minister for Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, and the Minister
for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman
announced that the Commonwealth was examining legislation to
impose a 12-month moratorium on the introduction of new interactive
gambling services. On the 17 August 2000 the Government introduced
the Interactive Gambling (Moratorium) Bill 2000. The Bill and
related documents can be obtained from
this page. A Bills
Digest prepared by the Parliamentary Library is also available.
The purpose of the Bill was to prohibit for one year those
interactive gambling services that were not being provided before
19 May 2000. The Bill passed the Senate on the 6 December 2000
after receiving the support of a number of Democrat and independent
Interactive Gambling (Moratorium) Act 2000 was assented to on
the 21 December.
On 27 March 2001
Senator Alston announced that the Government would introduce
legislation to prohibit Australian gambling services from providing
online gambling to Australian residents. Other press releases from
the Minister on the subject of interactive gambling can be obtained
The Interactive Gambling Bill 2001 was introduced on 5 April
2001 and was assented to on 11 July 2001. The Bill and related
documents can be obtained
here, and the Bills Digest can be accessed from this
page. The Interactive
Gambling Act 2001:
- prohibits interactive gambling services from being provided to
customers in Australia; and
- prohibits Australian-based interactive gambling services from
being provided to customers in designated countries; and
- establishes a complaints-based system to deal with Internet
gambling services where the relevant content (prohibited Internet
gambling content) is available for access by customers in
- prohibits the advertising of interactive gambling
The National Office
for the Information Economy (NOIE) maintains a detailed
page on interactive gambling, including a summary of the
legislation with other links and documents.
Productivity Commission Inquiry
On the 26 August 1998 the Commonwealth Treasurer, the Honourable
Peter Costello MP, directed the Productivity Commission to report
on the performance of the gambling industries and their economic
and social impacts across Australia, including their impact on the
retail, tourism and entertainment industries, and on Commonwealth
and State/Territory Budgets. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry
can be obtained here.
The inquiry was undertaken by Gary Banks, Chairman of the
Productivity Commission, and Robert Fitzgerald, who was President
of the Australian Council of Social Services from 1993 to 1997.
The final report was submitted on the 26 November 1999. The
Productivity Commission has an index page
providing access to the final
report and many related documents. Of particular interest
Select Committee Report on Online Gambling
On the 31 May 1999 the Senate Select Committee on Information
Technologies announced that it would inquire into:
- the nature, extent and impact of online gambling in
- the feasibility of controlling access to online gambling,
especially by minors;
- the adequacy of State and Territory regulations in relation to
online gambling; and
- the need for federal legislation.
The Committee reported on the 16 March 2000. The report,
Netbets A review of online gambling in Australia can be
this page. It recommended that:
- Federal, State and Territory governments work together to
develop uniform and strict regulatory controls on online gambling
with a particular focus on consumer protection;
- pending the implementation of these consumer protection
policies no further online gambling licences be granted; and
- State and Territory governments contribute a fixed percentage
of their gambling revenue to a national education campaign on
gambling and to agencies that assist and rehabilitate problem
The report also recommended many specific measures to protect
consumers and assist problem gamblers.
On 7 July 2000, Senator the Hon. Richard Alston, Minister for
Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, announced that
the Government would conduct a study into the feasibility and
consequences of banning interactive gambling. This inquiry was
undertaken by the National Office for the Information Economy
(NOIE). Its report was released on 27 March 2001, with the
following major conclusions:
- there are several technical methods that could potentially be
used to implement a ban on interactive gambling based on Internet
content control, but none would be 100 per cent effective in
preventing Australians' access to interactive gambling
- Implementing a ban on domestic interactive gambling service
providers would require legislative change only.
- A ban via financial controls is not practical.
- Economic modelling commissioned for the study indicates that a
ban may have modest or small economic benefits for Australia in
terms of restricting access to a harmful activity and possible
aggregate benefits for State and Territory taxation revenue.
The full report can be obtained from here
State and Territory
Regulatory Authorities and Policies
Racing and Gambling Commission is an independent statutory
authority responsible for controlling and regulating all gaming,
racing and betting activities in the ACT to ensure they are
conducted honestly, with integrity and free from criminal
influence. It has a comprehensive website with pages on
legislation, interactive gambling, problem gambling, a gaming
industry Code of Conduct, the casino, gaming machines and other
forms of betting.
The NSW Department of
Gaming and Racing is responsible for the proper conduct and
balanced development of the gaming, racing, liquor and charity
industries in NSW. Its website has pages on responsible gambling,
legislation and other matters.
The NSW Casino
Control Authority licenses and supervises the operations of the
The Racing and Gaming Authority administers gambling legislation
in the NT. The NT Gaming Machine Commission is responsible for
licensing gaming machines. Neither body has a website, although
information on their operations is available from the Annual
Report of the Authority.
The Queensland Office of
Gaming Regulation regulates machine gaming, casinos, art
unions, lotteries and keno in Queensland. It has a comprehensive
website pages dealing with topical issues, legislation, statistics,
information on interactive gambling and other policy matters.
Supervisory Authority is responsible for ensuring that there is
effective supervision of the operations of casino and gaming
machine licensees in SA. It is the function of the Office of the
Liquor and Gaming Commissioner to provide the supervision of
Gaming Commission regulates and controls gaming in Tasmania. It
is an independent statutory authority but receives operational
support from the Gaming Operations Branch of the Tasmanian
Department of Treasury and Finance.
Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority regulates and monitors
Victoria's gambling activities. It has a comprehensive website with
sections for legislation and policy, research, frequently asked
questions, media releases, licensing and other matters.
On 1 March 2000 the Minister for Gaming released for public
comment Responsible Gaming: A
Consultation Paper. The paper outlines proposed legislation and
seeks input into the process of regulating the industry.
The Office of
Racing, Gaming and Liquor administers WA legislation dealing
with these areas and carries out many of the operational functions
of the Gaming
Commission, including the provision of licensing, inspection
and audit functions in respect of both casino and permitted gaming
Other Reports and
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) paper, Internet
Gambling (June 1998) examines the policy options concerning
this issue. Papers for the Conference on "Gambling, Technology and
Society: Regulatory Challenges for the 21st Century"
(May 1998) convened by the AIC in conjunction with the Australian
Institute for Gambling Research are also available from this
page. They include discussions of policy options, legal issues
and responses, State views and technical measures.
on Gaming Legislation and Regulation in British Columbia
(January 1999) has much useful information on the regulatory
situation in Canada. It has chapters on the legal framework, recent
developments, social policy and emerging issues.
The US National
Gambling Impact Study Commission website provides access to the
Final Report and Recommendations of the Commission (June 1999) and
other research reports on gambling in the United States.
Gambling on the
Internet is a report presented to the 1999 Conference of the
International Association of Gambling Regulators. It consists of
two parts: 'The Legal Perspective' by Thomas N. Auriemma of the New
Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, and 'The Regulatory
Perspective' by Bill Lahey of the Victorian Casino and Gaming
In the United Kingdom an independent review body was established
to design a new regulatory structure for the gambling industry. The
Review page contains the Final Report and links to other
The major sources for Australian gambling statistics are the
Tasmanian Gaming Commission and the Australian Bureau of
Statistics. The former organisation, in conjunction with the Centre
for Regional Economic Analysis at the University of Tasmania,
produces the annual Australian Gambling Statistics. This
data is not directly available online, although figures derived
from the series can be obtained from the following:
S of the Productivity Commission Final Report, which gives
turnover, per capita expenditure and revenue for each state and
territory for selected years from 1972-73 to 1997-98.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics' site contains a large range
of information on Australian gambling. This is in the form of press
releases, some articles, and the main features (or summaries) of
their statistical series publications. They include:
The Australian Institute
for Gambling Research contains fact sheets, news, links and a
review of regulatory structures. The Institute is based at the
University of Western Sydney.
An Australian bibliography on gambling compiled by J. Morrison,
R. Lynch and A.J. Veal is available from this page.
Gambling Research Program of the School of the Social Work,
University of Melbourne investigates the effects of problem
gambling on individuals and their families as well as their
relationship to community support services.
The European Association for the
Study of Gambling provides information on European studies of
gambling and related subjects.
The Institute for
the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University
of Nevada, Reno is an academic body which aims to broaden the
understanding of gambling and the commercial gaming industry.
The National Center for
Responsible Gaming is a US site devoted to funding research on
problem and underage gambling.
has news, feature articles and other resources relating to problem
The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) is a non-profit
corporation affiliated with the University of Chicago. It has
conducted a Gambling Impact and
The two hundred and ninety submissions
to the Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia's Gambling
Industries constitute the most exhaustive set of views from
individuals and public interest groups on this subject.
The Australian Medical Association, Victoria has a page on gambling
issues. This looks at problem gambling from a public health
The Public Health Association of Australia has a page detailing
its policies regarding gambling and
The Financial and Consumer Rights Council has a gambling page
with links to a number of useful studies and articles. The Council
is a Victorian non-profit organisation which works to ensure that
people have access to fair treatment as consumers in the market
The International Association of
Gaming Regulators site provides access to occasional papers and
news stories. Their membership list contains links to most of the
gambling regulatory bodies in the world.
Coalition Against Legalized Gambling is a US site providing
Internet resources for anti-gambling campaigners.
The American Gaming
Association represents the commercial casino entertainment
The Interactive Gaming
Council is a forum for the Internet gaming industry.
News and Media
Insider has an archive of Internet gaming news.
The Rolling Good Times
has a large database of gambling news stories, particularly with
regard to interactive gambling.
Showhand is an online
magazine reporting on the gaming industry in Australia and
an archive of news stories and press releases.
For copyright reasons some linked items are only
available to Members of Parliament.
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