Draconian online gambling laws are bound to fail sooner or later and we have ample evidence to support that fact. Failure to create proper regulatory framework or creating laws that impose a blanket ban on online gambling always create serious problems for states as well as players.
UKGC Looks to Impose Stringent Measures
The online gambling market in the United Kingdom is a great example to analyze. The UK has witnessed a tremendous spike in online gambling activities during the last few years that has caused a flurry of iGaming operators to apply for licenses and look to capture a piece of the lucrative market.
A lot can be learnt from the UK, though new measures seem like steps backwards.
While online gambling has flourished in the UK during recent years, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has become concerned over the flak that it has received over the increase in problem gambling activities, online gambling ads targeting children and gamblers who are going into debt to fund their betting habits.
The UK Government along with the UKGC has decided to make a number of changes to its gaming laws in an effort to address these issues. Amongst the changes being discussed and implemented include the lowering of FOBT stakes from £100 to £2, coming out with stringent advertising regulations on what gaming operators can advertise, imposing massive fines on iGaming operators who are not fully compliant with regulations and holding discussions to ban credit card transactions at gambling related websites.
While it is understandable that the UKGC has to address concerns posed by the iGaming industry, many of the new measures that it is looking to implement will cause more harm than good to the iGaming industry and its players.
Draconian Laws Always Cause a Negative Impact
The purpose of a law is to protect players, to regulate and oversee a licensed online gambling industry, and finally to generate revenue that can be used for social welfare activities. Draconian online gambling laws fail to protect players and generate revenue for tax hungry states.
In the absence of proper laws, gamblers do not get the protection they need. They spend their hard-earned money gambling at unlicensed online gambling sites. Problem gamblers and gambling addicts do not get the support they badly require and the state does not get the revenue it badly needs. The wealth of the people flows out of the state to unlicensed online gambling.
Several gambling news sites and sites such as NoDeposit365 have shown how these laws have failed. In the absence of effective legislation, their law-enforcement agencies or governments will be unable to protect them in case they get cheated by online gambling sites.
America More Open to Online Gambling
Ever since the infamous Black Friday in 2011, online gamblers in America have been forced to use unlicensed websites. There are only four states that have lifted the ban on online gambling and they are Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
However, things are looking brighter for the online gambling community in the US as ever since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 in May 2018, a number of states have moved forward to legalize sports betting.
Some of the states that have legalized sports betting include Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. There are as many as 15 states who are also debating the possibility of legalizing sports betting in the coming months. The push to legalize sports betting has also opened the doors for online gambling to also be made legalized at the same time.
America realized that it could no longer hold on to the old views of restricting online gambling and sports betting as is now quickly taking steps to capitalize on this lucrative market. The change of times with the US gambling market should also send a strong message to other countries like Australia who should also follow suit.
Legalities of Online Gambling in Australia
Aussies love playing games of chance online. About 80 percent of them report to have gambled at least once per year. Several surveys have shown how Australians gamble more than people from any other country. For this reason, Australia attracted the attention of gambling operators from different parts of the world.
Why ban it when most Australians love it. The answer is obvious actually. Money talks.
But an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) of 2001, passed on Aug 9, 2017, changed all this. Today, Australians cannot play at any online poker room or online casino. While online lotteries and online sportsbooks are legal, in-play betting is not. This does not mean that the government of Australia penalizes citizens who sign up at online casinos licensed in offshore jurisdictions.
Australian players can still play online casino games at offshore online casinos, but in the absence of proper regulation, they cannot consider themselves safe at these online casinos. This is especially true when one considers the fact that several reliable gambling operators withdrew from the Australian market when the amendment was passed.
More about Australia’s Gambling Laws
The above-mentioned IGA of 2001 is directed at gambling operators, not at individual players. It prevents operators of online casinos and online poker rooms from providing their services to the residents of Australia. It also prevents them from advertising their products and services to the Australians.
At the same time, it remains silent about the legalities of signing up and playing at online casinos that do not have their servers in Australia. Interestingly, the law enables gambling operators based in Australia to provide their services to non Australians. Moreover, it applies to all operators of online gambling sites, irrespective of whether they are located within the borders of Australia or in offshore territories.
Although the aim of the IGA was to protect Australians, it fails to protect them from unlicensed offshore online gambling sites. It leaves Australian online gamblers with no choice, but to sign up at offshore online gambling sites that continue to accept Australian players. It also fails to protect these players from online casinos that cheat them of their deposits or fail to pay them their winnings.
The IGA has led to the exit of the most reliable and highly reputed online gambling sites from Australia, although some offshore online casinos and poker rooms continue to accept Australians.
The following is a list of authorities that regulate gambling activities in Australia:
- The Licensing Commission in the Northern Territory
- ACT Gambling and Racing Commission (Australian Capital Territory)
- Independent Gambling Authority in South Australia
- Tasmanian Gaming Commission in Tasmania
- Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor in Western Australia
- Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing in New South Wales Territory
- Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation in Victoria
Australia is home to several licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. In addition, players can access slot machine games and video poker machines (popularly known as pokies in Australia) at several land-based venues, including pubs, clubs, and bars.
Australia can learn lessons from both the UK market in terms of what not to do and from the US market in terms of what it should be doing to develop a thriving online gambling industry with regulations that suit current market trends.