Gaming Strategy
Featured Stories
Legal News Financial News Casino Opening and Remodeling News Gaming Industry Executives Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Mark Balestra

Will the DCITA Act on the Act?

5 March 2004

With a federal election a few months away and Australia's gambling interests waiting for the reevaluation of the 2001 Gambling Act (as prescribed by the Act itself), the Department of Information Technology and the Arts has given very little indication as to when the law will be updated, if at all.

The DCITA was instructed by former Communications Minister Richard Alston in January 2003 to undertake the review, and the department has since received dozens of submissions from individuals and companies with interests at stake. Among items to be taken into consideration are the growth of interactive gambling services, the social and commercial impact of those services, exclusions under the act and the feasibility of regulating financial transactions associated with the provision of interactive gambling services. The review was expected to have been completed early this year, but the DCITA has not delivered.

Gordon Neil, the DCITA's general manager for licensed broadcasting, acknowledged while speaking in Sydney Monday at the Pacific Congress on Interactive Gaming that the process has been slower than expected. He assured the audience that the review would come soon, although he stopped short of offering a specific time frame.

"I could offer a number of excuses," Neil explained, "but it wouldn't matter."

The Act was a major topic of discussion throughout the conference, and despite Neil's assurance, many are skeptical that the department will produce a review in a timely manner.

Anthony Seyfort, an attorney with the firm Lander and Rogers, said there are not many signs that interactive gambling is a high priority at the moment with the federal government. Seyfort, who spoke on the same panel as Neil, also said that Daryl Williams, who replaced Alston as Communications Minister in October, has yet to make any public reference to the Act in policy discussions.

"The best thing for the industry would be for the review to be held off until after the elections," Seyfort said. "Not a lot’s going to come out of the review unless it becomes an election issue."

Regardless of when the review is completed, it's possible that the department will elect to keep the status quo. Seyfort is of the mind that this is the most likely outcome.

"I would be surprised if there was much, if any, change to the Act," he said.

Neil's views on the effectiveness of the policy seem to support this.

"The general--but not universal--view is that the IGA has been successful," Neil explained.

But even if there are no amendments, Seyfort advised, the government still has means of tightening its I-gaming policy. Separate regulations, he said, could cancel out exemptions within the Act. Such could be the case if the government moves to explicitly prohibit betting exchanges.

The Payment Issue

Neil cited in-the-run betting and financial transactions as the two major areas of concern in the department's review. While the government seems intent on clamping down on in-the-run betting, whether it will seek to define enforcement mechanisms related to payment processing remains unclear.

Those doing business in U.S. markets are all too familiar with government efforts to curb online gambling activity by blocking payment processing channels. Section 69A of the IGA enables the government to make regulations covering the providing of money for gambling transactions deemed illegal.

The result would be a situation similar to that in the United States--one in which banking institutions have been called upon to block Internet gambling. To date, this means of enforcement has been highly effective.

To enforce any payment regulations, Seyfort said, the government would have to amend the Act.


Actions taken by the Australian Broadcasting Authority seem to support Neil's assessment that the Act has been effective, at least in terms of enforcement mechanisms. Richard Fraser from the ABA's Industry Performance and Review Branch was on hand in Sydney to talk about his department's progress in addressing the complaints filed in accordance with the Act against online gambling services illegally targeting Australian bettors.

Since the enactment of the IGA, Fraser said, the ABA has fielded 27 formal complaints, completed 20 investigations and banned 11 sites (all of which are offshore). The nine sites not prohibited, he said, are lotteries, sports sites and free-play sites.

There have been no complaints to date about the broadcasting of advertisements.

Fraser said the ABA has not disclosed the identity of the 27 complaint recipients, but that doing so was something they would consider.

Will the DCITA Act on the Act? is republished from
Mark Balestra
Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mark Balestra
Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.