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Betfair Says Aussie Government Should lift Online Gambling Ban

28 April, 2009,  Rita Malhotra, Staff writer

In what is becoming a familiar story around the world, the Australian Government is reconsidering its prohibitive approach to online gambling.

The Aussie Government was one of the first to take the leap and legislate to ban online gambling back in 2001, with its trail blazing Interactive Gambling Act.  But since then, it has become patently clear that the legislation is practically unenforceable and has simply encouraged those who want to gamble online to seek out offshore based betting options.  A recent study revealed that the number of Aussies playing poker online may number in the hundreds of thousands, while bans placed on locally licensed sportbooks from offering 'in-play' bets is simply leading to punters choosing offshore sportsbooks that do.

With mounting evidence that stopping punters from playing online is a mission impossible, and calls from local operators like TAB Sports betting and Betfair to relax 'in-play' betting restrictions the Government is now undertaking a consultation process to study gambling reform.  One of the key considerations of this process is the estimated $300 million a year in online gambling tax revenues the government is currently missing out on.  As noted by a Betfair spokes person:

“Because there is no law against someone in Australia betting online in-play on sport (the prohibition is directed solely at the operator) there is a large incentive for Australians to bet with these overseas operators. As a result, licensed Australian wagering operators are permanently losing the business of punters who are lured to these sites by offering in-play sports betting online"

Its a familiar theme around the word for countries that initially took a hard line approach to online gambling, including an about face from France, who are working on a new regulatory approach and the US where the smart money is on UIGEA repealing legislation to be put before the house very soon.

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