Minority report by ALP Senators
Executive Summary – Labor Senator’s minority report
- Labor senators consider that a moratorium or partial ban on
interactive gambling will not prevent access to online gambling and will not
prevent Australian gamblers from contacting offshore sites that are unregulated
and do not offer consumer protection or probity. Labor does not support an
outright ban of gambling on the Internet because we do not consider it to be
technically feasible or necessary.
- Labor senators acknowledge that the online gambling industry is
currently subject to regulation and oversight and that State and Territory
governments already ensure that online and interactive gambling operators meet
the highest standards of probity and auditing through licensing agreements.
- Labor senators recommends co-regulation involving a national
regulatory framework that provides consumer safeguards and industry Codes of
Practice. Such regulation involves legalisation of gambling online within a
national regulatory framework which addresses harm minimisation and consumer
protection issues as well as criminal issues
that relate to new criminal opportunities that may arise from gambling
- Labor senators recommends that current regulatory requirements
applying to off-line and land-based casinos, clubs or wagering venues should be
extended to online casinos and online wagering facilities.
- Labor senators support active Federal involvement in the
development of the co-regulatory regime that can be coordinated through the
Ministerial Council comprising of relevant State and Federal Ministers
- Labor senators is concerned that Australia’s good international
reputation for effective consumer protection laws and strong, workable gambling
regulations would be jeopardised by a ban or moratorium and this could result
in a rise in criminal activities, such as money laundering.
- Labor senators believes that a moratorium or ban on Internet
gambling is contrary to the best interests of the Australian Internet industry
and the development of e-commerce in Australia.
- The ALP recommends that a regulatory framework for online
gambling regulation should include:
- Consumer protection - ensuring a quality gambling product by
financial probity checks on providers and their staff, maintaining the
integrity of games and the proper working of gaming equipment,
- Mechanisms to exclude those not eligible to gamble under
- Problem gambling controls, such as exclusion from facilities,
expenditure thresholds, no credit betting, and the regular provision of
- Measures to minimise any criminal activity linked to interactive
- Privacy protection;
- Containing the social costs by ensuring that adequate ongoing
funds are available to assist those with gambling problems,
- Address revenue issues that impact upon state government
decisions relating to interactive gambling,
- Consistent standards for all interactive gambling operators,
- An examination of international protocols with the aim of
achieving multilateral agreements on sportsbetting and other forms of
- Regulation of propriety in advertising, including preventing
advertising from targeting minors,
- Limiting the exploitation of monopoly market positions; and
- Mechanisms to ensure that some of the benefits accrue more
directly to the local community.
1.1 There have been two recent, extensive inquiries into online
gambling, both of which addressed specifically the feasibility of a moratorium
or ban on interactive gambling.
- Netbets, A Review of online gambling in Australia by the
Senate Select Committee on Information Technologies, March 2000.
- Australia’s Gambling Industries – Inquiry Report, Productivity Commission,
1.2 Whilst the Netbets majority report recommended
a moratorium on interactive gambling, the report was ambiguous in that it also
recommended regulatory controls and consumer protection measures be developed
through cooperation between the various stakeholders. The Committee Majority
and Territory governments work together to develop uniform and strict
regulatory controls on online gambling with a particular focus on consumer
protection through the Ministerial Council on Gambling.
1.3 The Labor minority report in Netbets concluded
that a policy of strong regulation of interactive gambling is the most
practical and effective way of reducing social harm from gambling, including
criminal harm, and maximising the benefits that will flow to consumers, the
gambling and IT industries, and the Australia economy.
The Netbets minority report recommended that the
existing regulatory requirements for land-based casinos, clubs and wagering
venues should be extended to online casinos and wagering facilities. Probity,
audit and licensing requirements should be equally strict to maintain the level
of gambling regulation that presently exists.
1.4 The Productivity Commission report into gambling concluded that
there are serious social concerns about the prevalence and widespread
availability of gambling activities in Australia, however the Commission noted
does not consider that there is enough evidence to warrant banning any existing
gambling form...a better policy course is to pursue a range of strategies to
reduce the social risks associated with legalised gambling.
With respect to interactive gambling, the Productivity Commission
found that, while new technologies potentially increased opportunities for the
spread of gambling and resultant social dysfunctions:
offers significant potential benefits to some consumers and scope for
The Commission gave weight to the position that regulations applying to
other forms of gambling be extended to interactive gambling:
There are also
grounds for regulation of internet gambling, along the lines of regulations
applying to other gambling forms. The Commission considers that there are ways
of controlling online gambling sufficiently to exercise such regulations.
Labor senators do not support an outright ban of gambling
on the Internet because we do not consider it to be technically feasible or
2.1 Problem gambling, as identified
in the Productivity Commission report, is linked to accessibility and appeal,
and in this context poker machines, lotteries, TABs and casinos are the main
forms of gambling that foster problem gambling. Community concerns about the
prevalence of gambling in Australian society are not addressed by this bill.
This bill singles out one nascent form of gambling: interactive gambling.
The Productivity Commission noted
in its key findings that:
approaches for the gambling industries therefore need to be directed at
reducing the costs of problem gambling – through harm minimisation and
prevention measures – while retaining as much of the benefit to recreational
gamblers as possible.
Labor Senators consider this to be
the most appropriate approach to interactive gambling. The Productivity
Commission further confirmed that the internet can provide certain consumer
protection measures for problem gamblers:
some features of internet gambling which may moderate problem gambling.
These measures include the
possibility of increased scrutiny by household members, the absence of cash
transactions, the issuing of transaction records and payment of winnings by
cheque. Furthermore, as the odds for internet gambling are often lower due to
lower tax rates and lower technology costs:
will tend to be smaller...thereby reducing some of the harms.
2.2 Australia’s online operators
derive most of their income from overseas, not from within Australia. Up to
90% of online gambling transactions emanate from offshore, principally the
USA. Australian online gamblers make up approximately 5% of the market.
Whilst the online/internet market
will potentially grow (The Productivity Commission ‘noted that “The internet
is still in its infancy and subject to rapid change. As a result it is only
possible to speculate about what developments are possible for the delivery of
internet gambling services.”),
evidence presented to the Senate Committee affirmed that online gambling offers
a range of consumer and problem gambling ‘protections’ unavailable in
traditional forms of gambling and wagering.
2.3 Barring access by minors to
online gambling sites is an important element in addressing the negative social
impact of gambling in society. Barring accessibility of minors to online
gambling sites is feasible, for example: A minor can only obtain a credit card
as a secondary holder to an adult’s account and winnings are paid by cheque or
credited to the account holder. Existing online gambling operators already
provide measures to prevent minors from gambling.
The Productivity Commission noted
that while a small group of technologically astute minors will be able to
gamble on the internet without parental consent, “this is not a unique
and is more likely to occur through unregulated sites outside Australia’s
jurisdiction. Screening requirements, the ease of monitoring accounts and the
inability to access winnings instantaneously present effective barriers
preventing minors from accessing regulated interactive gambling sites.
Parental supervision and education in the use of filter software can assist
further in preventing access to unregulated (off-shore) sites. The
Productivity Commission found that online gambling posed minimal risk to minors.
2.4 The National Crime Authority,
in evidence to the Senate Select Committee on IT, assured that online
safeguards for Australian interactive gambling operators offer sufficient
consumer protection needed to address problem gambling:
citizens gamble in Australia, some of the advantages are: they will get better
odds, they probably will not get ripped off – they may actually have a chance
of getting paid some winnings – we can regulate it, and there will be taxes
available for problems caused by gambling. If Australian citizens gamble
offshore, it is virtually the opposite to all of those: they are often run by
undesirables, we cannot regulate it, the odds are usually terrible [and] there
is no money going back to the Australian government to deal with social
problems caused by gambling.
2.5 Banning interactive gambling
could exacerbate problem gambling by removing a regulated service with in-built
safeguards whilst still allowing access to unregulated and unlicensed offshore
sites. Poker machines, casinos, TABs, lotto tickets, scratchies, phone betting
et cetera will continue unabated.
Internet gambling is being singled
out to placate community concern expressed in relation to all forms of
gambling, but particularly with respect to poker machines and casinos. The
Productivity Commission noted that:
of problem gambling varies by the mode of gambling, with higher incidence for
regular players of gaming machines, racing and casino table games.
2.6 This bill, if passed, would
mislead the community, potentially creating a false sense of security by
contending that the Internet users would be ‘safe’ from ‘harmful’ interactive
gambling sites. The Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the legislation makes
it clear that access to online gambling sites on the Internet will still be
available to any online user.
2. 7 Online gambling operators
maintain that problem gambling is not an issue for them. Canbet, for example,
have operated a telephone betting service for four years and an internet
service for 20 months:
We have not
had one complaint that we have taken a bet from a problem gambler. We have not
had one complaint from a parent that we have taken a bet from an under-age
child. We have not had one request from a spouse of a punter to say, `Please,
stop my spouse betting; he is sending us broke', nor have we had one request
from a punter. We have had some losers and we have also had some winners, but
never has it been brought to our attention that there is a problem gambler.
2.8 The Inter-Church Gambling
Taskforce, whose submission supported this legislation, acknowledged that this
legislation is more an expression of values than a solution to a potential
problem. The Inter-Church Gambling Task Force expressed support for a
prohibition on interactive gambling, but has not expressed support for a
prohibition on other forms of land based gambling. The Task Force stated that
that to a certain extent, in respect of land based gambling, the horse has bolted
[and] at this point in time a prohibition in respect of land based gambling is
not feasible. [Our support for this bill emanates] from a statement of values,
an expression of concern, about what kind of community we want to create for
our children and what kinds of values we want to see emphasised.
2.9 Despite the availability of increased online racing services to
Australian homes, there is little evidence of a parallel increase in problem
gambling. The Home Racing Channel, which has been available on Sky Channel
since 5 September 1998, has not resulted in a perceivable surge in problem
gambling. TAB Ltd (NSW) told the Committee:
these new technologies or new distribution mechanisms, we have not seen any
outrageous or unwieldy sort of growth in the business. My point is that the
technology will not—as some of the doomsayers suggest—create rampant growth in
wagering. It just will not happen.
Labor senators recommend that a
regulatory framework for online gambling regulation should include: Consumer
protection - ensuring a quality gambling product by financial probity checks on
providers and their staff, maintaining the integrity of games and the proper
working of gaming equipment; mechanisms to exclude those not eligible to gamble
under Australian law, problem gambling controls, such as exclusion from
facilities, expenditure thresholds and the availability of transaction records;
Provision to minimise any criminal activity linked to gambling and privacy
Online Gambling regulations.
3.1 The online gambling industry
is already subject to a high degree of regulation and oversight by State and
Territory governments and Australia has a reputation as providing good consumer
protection legislation, as acknowledged in the Productivity Commission Report.
3.2 The Australian Casino
Association (ACA) has updated a Code of Practice that addresses many of the
harm minimisation measures recommended by both the Productivity Commission and Netbets..
ACA prohibits credit gambling, allows members to pre-set betting limits,
provides Personal Identification Numbers to ensure family members cannot access
gambling sites, ensures privacy and security of participants, issues winnings
via non-negotiable cheques (not credit cards) and works with AUSTRAC to counter
3.3 Evidence presented by the
online gambling industry clearly demonstrated that Australia provides consumers
with the highest level of protection in the world. The Australian Casino
Association, advocating the general industry position, called for:
advocates coordinating strict licensing regulation between Australian online
gaming sites. That is the only practical way to protect Australian players and
minimise the risk of problem gambling. The ACA Online Gambling Task Force has
developed a code of practice which members adhere to, and this provides the
highest level of consumer protection available. Australian casinos operate
under regulations that are among the most stringent in the world and are at the
leading edge of global gaming practices in terms of social and industry best
practice. This also applies to our online businesses, where Australia has an
enormous opportunity to present to the world the highest quality product with
the tightest regulations.
3.3 Existing and prospective
online gambling operators also favour strict regulation and a federal
legislative framework, including Codes of Practice for sporting organisations,
to ensure match fixing, point-shaving and insider information are addressed.
3.4 The Productivity Commission
also supports regulation and control of the online gambling industry. They
some form of
regulation of internet gambling, is, in principle, an important objective, and
is consistent with the aspirations of other regulations applying to gambling –
consumer protection, probity and preservation of revenue.
3.5 A primary concern for
Australian online gamblers is being ‘ripped off’ on the Internet. A
moratorium/ban will force Australian punters wanting to bet online offshore, to
unregulated and potentially dubious sites that do not offer consumer
protection. There are approximately 800 unregulated offshore Internet casinos
worldwide, with 20 new sites opening each day. These sites cannot guarantee
personal security or provide the safeguards Australian online operators
3.6 A blanket ban or moratorium
makes it impossible for an Australian government to regulate consumer
protection or standardise harm minimisation features. The latter is considered
by the Productivity Commission an important element in providing palliative
measures to address problem gambling and provide consumer information.
3.7 The Northern Territory
Government argued that a moratorium or ban would, in effect, decimate result in
the industry losing their international competitiveness:
the fact is
that we feel we should manage the change presented by the new technology rather
than try to resist it. In this light, it is suggested a moratorium is
misconceived. All it has done is retard the development of additional player
protection measures by Australian regulators. It has made the task of
developing a local globally competitive industry that much harder...Operators
work in a globally competitive market which requires the development and
enhancement of new products. They cannot survive if they are simply going to
be frozen to existing bet types or to existing sports types as suggested by the
3.8 The ACT Government told the
Committee that they issued licences based on the assumption that Australians
would prefer to bet with an Australian site that provided well regulated and
protected features that offshore sites that did not offer these measures.
Their position is that:
a choice was
faced some time ago when looking at this area as to whether there should be a
comprehensive attempt to properly regulate an area of emerging activity, or to
attempt to push the activity out of sight and out of the purview of Australians
altogether. The ACT government reached a view quite early on that the latter
of those courses of action was technically impossible, outside certainly our
power and probably outside the power even of the Australian government, and
that it was important for that reason to develop a comprehensive legislative
arrangement to ensure that interactive gambling, if it occurred, occurred in a
properly regulated way.
3.9 The Tasmanian Government
presented maintained that their regulatory regime for online gambling is in
fact stricter than for off-line gambling.
government remains implacably opposed to a moratorium or a ban on Internet
gambling. It considers that the Tasmanian gaming licences are issued under the
strongest possible conditions of probity, and it expects that only top-class
respected companies and/or individuals will apply and be granted those
licences. The Tasmanian government also asserts that the regulations in place
in the Tasmanian jurisdiction are exponentially more onerous that those which
apply to terrestrially based casinos, for instance. A minor gambling at a
terrestrial casino in Tasmania attracts a fine to the organisation in the order
of $2,000. A minor accessing an online gaming site, if provided a service,
faces a fine of not less than $60,000 for a first offence and a fine of not
less than $100,000, plus two years jail, plus loss of licence for a subsequent
offence. The Tasmanian government considers that the ability to control
gambling online is enhanced by our regulations regarding online gambling in a
far more comprehensive manner than is able to conducted in relation to
3.10 This is the first time that the Commonwealth has tried to
restrict gambling since 1903, when they tried to stop the Tattersalls lottery
being sold across borders.
Labor senators acknowledge that the online gambling industry is
currently subject to a sufficient degree of regulation and oversight and that
State and Territory governments already ensure that online and interactive
gambling operators meet the highest standards of probity, auditing and
The ALP recommends that current regulatory requirements applying to
off-line and land-based casinos, clubs or wagering venues should be extended to
online casinos and online wagering facilities.
4. Technical feasibility on a
moratorium or ban
4.1 The Productivity Commission
noted technical difficulties in imposing a ban or moratorium on internet
gambling and cautioned against the expense and viability of such an approach:
It should be
emphasised that the relevant question for public policy is not whether online
gambling can be controlled, but the extent to which it can be controlled. Full
control is an unobtainable objective, which would be undesirable to achieve
because of its attendant costs.
4.2 The Explanatory Memorandum
confirms that a ban or moratorium is not technically feasible and that this
legislation will not prevent problem gamblers accessing online gambling sites.
The Memorandum states:
moratorium will not restrict Australian gamblers’ current ability to access
Although the intention of this Bill
appears to be a freeze on internet gambling, the Explanatory Memorandum
moratorium will not prevent the expansion of the offshore industry or the
availability of traditional gambling products.
In practice, access to online
gambling will not be restricted and provided the service is conducted offshore,
Australians will not be prevented from accessing offshore interactive gambling
4.3 A ban or moratorium would not
prevent a server located within Australia from accepting wagers or bets then
communicating that information via an encrypted virtual private network to
facilities located offshore. It would be almost impossible to police this type
4.4 Labor senators are
particularly concerned that the proposed ban is not technologically neutral and
mandates what forms of communication technologies can and can’t be used for
gambling. ‘Interactive’, for example, is defined by the Macquarie Dictionary
as “relating to an electronic device which responds to instructions from the
user by providing optional paths for the user to follow, such as a computer, or
a push-button telephone, which is being used in two-way electronic communication
with its user.”
Allowing television and telephone
interactive gambling (which Canbet claims costs them $2.60 per transaction) but
nor internet gambling (which Canbet claims costs them 0.20 cents per
transaction) discriminates against a particular technology.
4.5 A moratorium or ban would
entail significant costs to enforce as new technologies enter the market
place. Given the prospective uptake of digital television and the likelihood
that new online technologies will continue to be marketed, it is probable that
addition amendments will be required which will make the technical imposition
of a ban even less feasible.
4.6 Australia’s international
reputation, particularly as a global participant in e-commerce and online
commerce, will be further harmed as we will be seen as a censorious country
stifling Internet growth through technically unworkable legislation.
4.7 Australian online gambling
operators indicated that they will simply relocate offshore if this Bill is
enacted and continue operating and servicing local and international online
gamblers outside of Australian regulations. This renders any moratorium or ban
ineffectual as Australians will still be able to bet online with what are, in
essence, Australian companies, however the harm minimisation protection
measures and probity checks will not necessarily be available. PBL Gaming
Manager, Mr Wayne Jones, stated that if this legislation proceeds:
we would have
to look very closely and see if there are other opportunities to relocate in some
Mr Peter Bridge, Managing Director
of Lasseters Holdings stated:
In regard to
Lasseters, we would also have to look at going offshore if this ban was
4.8 Professor McMillen, from the
Australian Institute for Gambling Research, argued for a ‘pause’ in Internet
gambling so that we could “stop and take a look at what was going on”.
However, Professor McMillen confirmed that this legislation would not achieve
that aim. Given the technical infeasibility of a ban, Professor McMillan
called for State and Commonwealth governments to cooperate in forming a
I agree that
a pause is necessary to look at the issues, I accept the Commonwealth's
preference for a ban, but I am unconvinced that a ban is either technically
feasible or that it will actually be cost effective in policy terms. If that
is the case and it is shown that a ban is not feasible, I would call again for
urgent and concentrated effort on improving the regulatory standards that exist
in this country, to establish a national approach that includes issues of
consumer protection and of the probity and operating standards for the
primary objective of the legislation is to restrict the market so that we can
look at the issue of problem gambling and prevent the expansion of the increase
of problem gambling, I think that is going to fail, simply, as I said, because
people are going to bet with existing Australian licensees, and some of them do
not have effective consumer protection programs in place. There is no
requirement in this bill for that to occur. They are also going to bet
4.10 The Northern Territory
government submitted that they were well placed to manage the technical
challenge of regulating online gambling. Mr Tony Clark, appearing on behalf of
the NT Government, said that they had investigated the possibility of blocking
access to offshore online sites and found that “not realistic”. Given that
situation, they opted to develop globally competitive sites that provide
socially responsible standards:
technology enables socially responsible gambling measures to actually be built
into the products. For example, you will have heard of betting limits,
self-exclusion and the availability of self-diagnosis for problem gambling. No
existing physical world product offers you these benefits. As a regulator, I
would in fact prefer that all gambling was conducted on the Internet so that I
could have access to those sorts of benefits.
4.11 The ACT Government also
maintained that they had investigated a ban and found such an approach
technically impossible. The ACT Government’s Attorney General, The Hon. Gary
Humphries, said in evidence that the ability to prevent access to certain
internet sites was beyond their power and therefore they opted to develop a
legislative framework that provided necessary regulations and safeguards for
that Australians, for example, would prefer to bet on an Australian site as
opposed to a site based overseas, and that if we could provide well regulated
effective sites, sites that offered protection, sites likely to ensure that
Australian gamblers received their winnings if they won, sites that were
otherwise appropriate in all respects, that Australians would use those sites
in preference to overseas ones.
4.12 Labor senators are also
concerned that the Bill, if interpreted literally, could lead to the banning of
other forms of interactive gambling, such as telephone betting. Section 5b of
the legislation defines a gambling service as
the service is
provided to customers using any of the following
- an Internet
- any other
listed carriage service;
Whilst the intent of this
legislation may be to mandate a particular technology to exclude (ie, the
internet), the legislation opens up legal challenges as ‘other listed carriage
services’ may include existing wagering and gambling services not supplied
Labor senators do not support an
outright ban of gambling on the Internet because we do not consider it to be
technically feasible or necessary.
Labor considers that a
moratorium or ban on interactive gambling will not prevent access to online
gambling and will not prevent Australian gamblers from contacting offshore
sites that are unregulated and do not offer consumer protection or probity.
Opposition to the Bill.
5.1 The Committee was presented
with overwhelming opposition to a moratorium or ban, from:
- The gambling industry (Canbet, ACT TAB, NSW (TAB), Australian Casino
Association, The Federal Group, Tattersalls, EBET Limited, Gocorp, Lasseters,
- The Internet Industry (Internet Industry Association), and
- State and Territory Governments (ACT Government, Northern
Territory Government and the Tasmanian Government).
5.2 The main opposition to a
moratorium was expressed by the various stakeholders in the gambling and
wagering industry who indicated that they would relocate offshore and continue
operating if a ban/moratorium was imposed. Canbet’s Mr Richard Farmer gave
evidence that, as 95% of his business is derived from overseas, his company
would relocate if a moratorium was imposed:
Minister has said that he thinks all Internet gambling should be done away with
after the moratorium. If that were the decision of the government, I would
just shrug my shoulders and move.
5.3 Concerns were raised with
respect to the unfair nature of the retrospective clause in the legislation.
The Bill makes it a criminal offence to offer a new interactive gambling
service after the moratorium date of 19 May 2000.
The Internet Industry of Australia,
which made clear it did not necessarily advocate or condone the practice of
gambling, nevertheless insisted that the retrospective clause disadvantages
the retrospectivity of the legislation to the date of the media release of the
minister on 19 May does not exemplify good policy-making. We believe it
arbitrarily disadvantages businesses that have no means of managing that risk.
Indeed, some of them have entered into contracts and/or raised public capital
prior to that date and we are concerned as to the precedent of policy making in
this manner. I also understand that some of the states have raised similar
5.4 A number of online operators
held off ‘in good faith’ the commencement of their services. These operators
now face restrictions or being unable to operate altogether. The Northern
Territory’s submitted that
be no retrospective effects. The operation of the clause is unclear when one
compares the terms of the bill with the public statements that have been made
by the Commonwealth. I would suggest that the restrictions on current
operators are too stringent. Operators work in a globally competitive market which
requires the development and enhancement of new products. They cannot survive
if they are simply going to be frozen to existing bet types or to existing
sports types as suggested by the bill.
5.5 The ban on existing services
will stifle innovation, rendering online gambling and other related companies
uncompetitive. Companies not involved in interactive gambling per se, (such as
MB2 which provides wagering-related services to sports betting enthusiasts)
have received legal advice that under the Bill’s Definitions, Paragraph B, it
can be interpreted as including services that do not accept wagering or
betting, but provide information and hot-links to online betting services.
5.6 There has been no
consultation with State or Territory governments regarding the impact of this
legislation, as the ACT Government’s Attorney General the Hon, Gary Humphries
told the committee:
We did not
believe the legislation was desirable or effective. Those views have not been
taken up by the federal government. To the extent that we have put an issue on
the table that has not been taken up, I suppose we have not been properly
Mr Mike Gard, representing the
Tasmanian Government, confirmed that his state had aslo been excluded from
consultations with the Commonwealth over potential impacts a moratorium would
have. Mr Gard told the Committee that:
we received a
copy of the bill the day after it was tabled in parliament from a licence
5.7 The Internet Industry
expressed opposition to this Bill on a number of grounds:
- The Bill will characterise the Internet as inherently harmful,
- Sites which are subject to control within Australia will be
substituted for unregulated sites overseas.
- Present state and territory licence conditions for online
operations force them to greater degrees of restriction than exist with their
- The argument that allowing gambling into the home will set a
bad example for children is not necessarily sustainable as applying this
argument to other issues suggests that no alcohol should be consumed in the
home in case it teaches children to become alcoholics.
- Internet service providers fear that the moratorium is in fact
nothing more than a precursor to a complete ban.
- There are serious concerns about the technical capabilities of
implementing a ban and there is concern about the consequential effects on the
costs of Internet access in Australia, possibly widening the information
- ISP members are concerned about the effect on network
performance and the stability of the Internet as a medium which underlies
commerce in Australia.
- The extraterritorial nature of the bill means that even
businesses that are located offshore, have some corporate nexus back to
Australia and seek not to target Australian users will still be caught.
- The banning of the sale of lottery tickets online seems to us
a fairly ludicrous proposition when they are legally available from the local
- As a general rule, we argue that what is legal offline should
be legal online and that the Internet should not be discriminated against
simply on the basis of accessibility.
5.8 This legislation has the
potential to inflict significant harm to Australia’s reputation as a place for
investment in the Information Economy. Interactive gambling is part of the
broader e-commerce environment and regulation ensures security and trust in
online trading, be it in shares and stock, or interactive gambling.
Labor senators maintain that
Australia’s international reputation for delivering both good consumer
protection laws and workable gambling regulations would be jeopardised by a ban
or moratorium and this could result in a rise in criminal activities, such as
Labor believes that a moratorium
or ban on Internet gambling is contrary to the best interests of the Australian
Internet industry and the development of e-commerce in Australia.
6.1 A number of submissions
pointed out the unfairness of legislation that seeks to impose criminal
sanctions for intentionally supplying an online gambling service. The Northern
Territory submission observed that:
it may be
somewhat unfair to adopt a criminal approach to stopping this activity and
thereby avoiding paying compensation to operators who in good faith have invested
millions of dollars to fulfil what has been a lawful activity. I would observe
that it may be somewhat unfair to adopt a criminal approach to stopping this
activity and thereby avoiding paying compensation to operators who in good
faith have invested millions of dollars to fulfil what has been a lawful
6.2 Existing State and Territory
sanctions are sufficiently stringent for online operators. In some
jurisdictions, such as Tasmania, the penalties for allowing minors access is
greater for online operators than for offline ones.
gambling at a terrestrial casino in Tasmania attracts a fine to the
organisation in the order of $2,000. A minor accessing an online gaming site,
if provided a service, faces a fine of not less than $60,000 for a first
offence and a fine of not less than $100,000, plus two years jail, plus loss of
licence for a subsequent offence. The Tasmanian government considers that the
ability to control gambling online is enhanced by our regulations regarding
online gambling in a far more comprehensive manner than is able to conducted in
relation to terrestrial casinos.
7.1 Labor senators maintains that
the most effective way to manage interactive and Internet gambling is to have
State and Territory cooperation in formulating a national regulatory regime.
7.2 Labor supports Federal
co-ordination of consistent State-based regulatory regime. The appropriate
forum is the Ministerial Council comprising relevant State and Federal
Ministers developing a national regulatory framework.
7.3 Labor affirms its support for
a regulatory framework, and industry wide codes of practice including:
- mechanisms to exclude those not eligible to gamble under
- problem gambling controls (eg, exclusion from facilities,
expenditure thresholds, the availability of transaction records),
- privacy protection;
- regulation of propriety in advertising, and
- software and accounting procedures.
7.4 Given that prohibition does
not work, and a ban/moratorium would simply allow operators of online casinos
and sportsbetting agencies to move offshore and remove any protection to
consumers, Labor supports the continued development of an effective
co-regulatory regime and opposes the Bill.
Senator Kate Lundy
Senator Mark Bishop
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