Australia to enact consumer protection for online gambling, others to follow

Australia continues to lead the world in the acceptance and regulation of online gambling with a focus on users rather than revenues.  Many countries and some US states have begun to embrace the coming of online casinos as a way to produce tax revenues, but many of these entities enter with only dollar signs in their eyes and without a full understanding of the risks involved with fraud against consumers.

Australia has taken a more holistic approach to online gambling, not only focusing on increasing tax revenues, but studying careful the effect it will have on tourism, the economy as a whole, but lately more on consumer protection.  The law which is being created now and is expected to be implemented this summer contains measured designed around preventing the harmful effects of addiction and player lack of control.   The law consists of eleven separate parts that come together to create a consumer protection mechanism for consumers.

The first section involves the requirement that online casinos that operate in Australia must abide by a national self-exclusion registry where people can sign-up to prevent themselves from joining online casinos at a later date.  Obviously, this is being developed for those going through counseling for gambling addiction or for those going through a criminal process as a result of a gambling problem.   A second section requires online casinos operating in Australia to provide a pre-commitment device where players can set spending limits at the casino in advance.

The online gambling consumer protection bill in Australia goes even further.  It prevents online casinos from offering credit in any more.  It also prevents them from having any profit-relationship with any lending institution, and finally, it prevents online casinos from providing links to so-called Pay-Day loan organizations.  Finally, the law requires that online casinos send monthly activity reports to players showing clear data on total loses during the month along with other information.

While all of this seems reasonable, and in some cases welcome to players, there are some scary things that are being hinted at.  One of them would give the gov´t a way to force ISPs to block non-compliant Online Casinos who do not follow the regulations set up in Australia.  Obviously many Internet-protection organizations do not like any situation, no matter what the cause, for establishing a mechanism to where governments can force ISPs to block certain websites.  This is better dealt with through criminal prosecutions rather than restricting internet access.

While this new law obviously only affects Australia, in the past other countries usually evaluate the success of similar laws in other countries while writing their own laws.  If they prove successful at preventing some of the harmful effects of online gambling while allowing freedom for citizens to participate in activities of their choices, the current law is written in Australia could very well be the template used by other countries around the world.