Online gaming ban excludes ISP filtering

Internet service providers will be under no obligation to block or filter gambling sites under legislation to prohibit online and interactive gambling in Australia which is set to be introduced to federal parliament.

The prohibition will apply to all gaming and wagering services offered on a commercial basis over the Internet or through online delivery systems such as interactive television and advanced mobile phone technologies.

However, the ban will not apply to service providers offering these services to people who are physically located overseas.

IT Minister Senator Richard Alston said Australia's status as one of the world's leading problem gambling nations demands that "we take decisive action to protect the most vulnerable in our community". "Importantly, the regime will not place any obligation on Internet service providers (ISPs) to filter or to block prohibited interactive gambling sites. Instead, the legislation will place the onus on gambling service providers to determine whether users are physically located in Australia and, if they are, to prevent them from accessing the gambling site," Senator Alston said.

In relation to gambling service providers located offshore, the government will apply a similar regime to the online content regime whereby ISPs are required to inform and make available to their customers relevant user-based filters.

"While this aspect of the regime will be complaints based as is the case with online content, it will be administered pro-actively through the early identification of the finite number of overseas gambling sites which will then be passed on to filter manufacturers," he said.

Senator Alston said that the government had taken heed of a recent report by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) which investigated the feasibility and consequences of banning interactive gambling.

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