Australia Moves to Curb Internet Gambling

SINGAPORE (06/28/2000) - The Australian government will introduce legislation later this year to impose a moratorium on the introduction of new interactive gambling services.

The moratorium will be imposed while the government looks at ways of completely banning Internet gambling, according to a government statement issued Tuesday.

The move is designed to address serious concerns in the community about the effects of gambling on the Australian community. A recent government report found that there are already more than 200,000 problem gamblers in Australia out of a population of 18 million [M].

In the statement, Minister for Communication, Information Technology and the Arts Richard Alston said, "Although interactive gambling is still in its infancy, the Commonwealth (government) is concerned that new technologies have the potential to dramatically increase both the amount of gambling available in Australia and the negative social impacts on individuals, families and communities."

The legislation will:

-- impose a 12-month moratorium with effect from 19 May 2000 on the introduction of new interactive gambling services, including new services being offered by existing providers-- apply to all Australian-based interactive gambling service providers regardless of whether or not the service targets Australian residents-- broadly cover all forms of interactive gambling including gaming and wagering with specific exclusions for those services not intended to be affected (e.g. phone betting and online stock trading)-- impose maximum penalties of up to A$1.1 million (US$662,000) a day and be enforced by the Australian federal police as a criminal offense.

"A moratorium will provide a break in the further expansion of interactive gambling in Australia while the Commonwealth (government) thoroughly investigates banning this new form of gambling," the statement said.

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