The Australian government is to begin a review of its online gambling laws, with recommendations due to be returned by the end of the year.
Social services minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday that the review into the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act and online operators will be headed up by former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell.
Australia’s online gambling industry is worth around AUD1.6bn, with Morrison claiming almost 60% of online wagers are going offshore to websites beyond the control of Australian regulators, thereby avoiding product fees.
Morrison said: “Unlike Australia’s licensed operators, overseas agencies don’t contribute product fees to racing and sporting bodies, do not comply with Australia’s legal system and are not obligated to monitor and report suspicious betting activity.
“Illegal offshore wagering also leaves Australian punters without protection for payouts on their winnings.”
Consultations with operators, representatives of the racing industry, state and territory governments and community groups will be undertaken as part of the review.
There will also be a call for public submissions.
Crownbet CEO Matthew Trip told the Australian newspaper: “We are very eager to work with the federal government, national sporting organisations and the community to ensure we have strong social safeguards for all our customers and a well regulated and responsible industry.”
He added: “There are literally thousands of offshore websites operating offering Australians the chance to bet live on Australian sports via the internet.
“Any push to wind back in-play gambling will send punters to offshore and illegal sites.
“A well regulated market place where everyone understands the rules is essential for the government and the industry to protect vulnerable gamblers.”