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Australia goes after online gambling sites in new probe

TAGs: Australia, Jasmine Solana, Online gambling sites, Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott

Australia goes after online gambling sites in new probeNext in Australia’s review list: international gambling sites.

After announcing last week its plans to review online betting laws, the Australian government now wants to examine all online wagering operators in the country.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement on Monday, media outlet News.com.au reported. Morrison said former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell will lead the probe.

Currently, there are 30 online gambling sites in the country, but Morrison said only about 40 percent of the industry’s $1.6 billion revenue enters Australia’s coffers. The rest, according to the minister, goes to more than 2,000 international websites that are out of the government’s reach.

Members of the racing industry, professional sports, wagering groups as well as state and territory governments and the public will be consulted, according to the report. O’Farrell and his team has until Dec. 18 to submit their recommendations to the federal government.

Morrison said he hopes the recommendations will include measures that will protect the public from illegal websites.

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered Morrison to review the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act and possibly update it to reflect the present technological landscape.

The government expects to get tougher laws that will deal with internationally licensed online operators whose websites run in Australia. The country is also working on a national self-exclusion register, under which all Aussie online bookies would know whose action not to accept.

However, the fate of in-play betting remains in limbo. In-play wagering is presently allowed when done over the phone, but with William Hill’s Click To Call app, politicians will either have to rewrite existing laws to ban such online workarounds or admit that that they are falling behind their counterparts in more progressive jurisdictions that allow in-play betting systems.

Crownbeat CEO Matthew Tripp welcomed IGA’s “long overdue” overhaul, promising to hold off introducing new wagering features as in-play betting while the government review is ongoing.

Meanwhile, independent Sen. Nick Xenophon is already drafting his own proposed amendments to the 14-year-old act, which includes a ban on gambling advertisements during sporting programs.

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