Sunday November 13, 2011 : AUSSIE CLAMPDOWN ON INTERNET GAMBLING FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS ‘UNWORKABLE'
Banker's Association warns gambling reform committee
The Australian Banker's Association has joined the many Australian experts and trade associations making submissions to the federal government review on gambling reform, opining that any attempt to use the national payments system to clamp down on internet gambling would be unworkable.
The banks and credit card giant Visa say they are worried that trying to block financial transactions made to internet gambling websites could also interfere with online shopping, reported the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend.
The chief executive of the Australian Bankers' Association, Steven Munchenberg, warned the joint select committee on gambling reform that trying to restrict financial transactions was ”not straightforward”.
The parliamentary committee is investigating the impact of a measure introduced by independent Senator Nick Xenophon that seeks to restrict financial transactions on prohibited internet gambling sites.
”[If] Australia was identified as a jurisdiction where payment obligations may not be fulfilled in a certain and timely manner, it is possible that merchants and online service providers will refuse to accept business and payments from customers designated as originating from Australia,” Munchenberg said.
”This would have a significant impact on the contestability of Australian businesses as well as the ability for Australian consumers to purchase online goods and services.”
Representatives from Visa additionally argued that blocking technology was unworkable.
The committee heard evidence that Australians can easily reach 92 percent of the estimated 2,443 online gambling sites available on the internet, even though the Interactive Gambling Act banned local internet gambling sites from accepting money from Australian residents.
Despite the restrictions, it is estimated that Australians spent more than $968 million last year on offshore online casino, poker and bingo sites.
The committee, which is headed by independent member of parliament Andrew Wilkie, is scheduled to release its report to the federal government at the end of November.
Professor Alex Blaszczynski, a member of the government's advisory council on gambling, told the committee in his written submission that the IGA was in need of reform and updating.
”Australians can easily access offshore internet gambling sites, and have little recourse if they lose their money or experience unscrupulous treatment,” Professor Blaszczynski pointed out.