Australia's Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin is concerned over the popularity of internet gambling, and revealed whilst addressing a problem gambling conference this week that the federal government planned to discuss the rapidly growing pastime at a gathering of state and territory ministers next year.
Observers noted the irony of the minister delivering her problem gambling speech at a land casino on Australia's Gold Coast.
The Courier-Mail newspaper reports that new research numbers show that Aussies will bet just short of A$1 billion on internet gambling this year, with government ministers like Macklin fearing it could become a problem as large as the better known pokie machines found extensively throughout the nation.
Internet gambling, apart from sports betting and lotteries, is banned for Australians (*incorrect - see note below), but many of them access overseas-based gambling sites to sidestep the ban.
Reporting on the conference, the Courier-Mail quoted Dr Sally Gainsbury of Southern Cross University's Centre of Gambling Education and Research, who said internet gambling worldwide was forecast to grow in value from A$21 billion in 2008 to A$30 billion by 2012. She claimed that "unregulated" websites provide few player-protection measures.
Earlier this year, the federal government appointed Productivity Commission recommended that a decade-long ban on internet gambling be lifted - a recommendation which the federal government rejected.
Source: InfoPowa News
Ed's note: Internet gambling is not illegal for Australians, and there are no legal means for an Australian player to be prosecuted for gambling online. Australian law makes it illegal for an operator to accept Australian players, and for an operator to run an online casino or poker site from within Australia. The reality is that most offshore operators pay no heed to this law. More info here: Is online gambling illegal in Australia?