Internet gaming has been generally considered by Australian policymakers as representing a new type of gambling activity, for which new legislation had to be developed. Unlike Internet gaming, the regulation of Internet wagering, Internet sports betting and Internet lotteries is often enshrined in existing legislation which has either been only slightly amended or not amended at all. These amendments have, in general terms, applied the same type of regulation that applies to telephone and terrestrial services and promotion to those provided over the Internet. These differing regulatory regimes should be borne in mind when considering the Australian approach.
Recent developments have seen Australia’s gambling scene in a state of flux. In November 2008, the federal government commissioned the Australian Productivity Commission to study Australia’s gambling industries, and in June 2010 the commission produced its final report. Among other things, the report proposed a strict system of pre-commitment for gaming machines, suggested that a national takeover of racing may be required and recommended the managed liberalization of Internet gambling, beginning with online poker. Upon its release, the government immediately issued statements saying that it would not take up this recommendation. Despite this, there is a widespread level of acceptance at all levels of government about the legitimacy of gambling as a form of entertainment. It is also likely, as a result of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s Final Report, that there will be continued debate about the efficiency and appropriateness of the current restrictions in the IGA and whether the current prohibitions should be replaced by a policy with managed liberalization.