Battle of the bets

Online gambling: bane or blessing? That is the question taxing lawmakers this week after the ACT government issued two internet gambling licences to Tattersalls and ACTTAB.

The move earned the ACT regulators a condemnation from Jocelyn Newman, Federal Minister for Family and Community Services, the department which must cope with the social results of gambling addiction.

Newman, who chaired the Ministerial Council on Gambling held on April 19 this year, called it "a life damager".

Meanwhile, the minister, together with Senator Richard Alston, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, announced that the Commonwealth is "actively examining" legislation to impose a 12-month moratorium on all new forms of interactive gambling services.

Among the states and territories, only NSW and WA have agreed to support such a ban. So the stage is set for a policy tug-of-war between the federal government and a majority of the states.

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