Aussie gambling soars as digital giants say ‘no’ to blocking offshore sites

Aussie gambling soars as digital giants say ‘no’ to blocking offshore sites

Friday, December 4, 2015 Totally Gaming
Around AUS$1,000 for every person in the country was gambled in the year to September

Australia’s gambling industry is booming according to government figures released this week. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) national accounts show that a record AUS$6.4bn (€4.3bn/$4.7bn) was gambled in the quarter to September 30 alone, up 6.1 per cent over the year.

In the year to September, a record AUS$24.1bn was spent on gambling or around AUS$1,000 for every person in the country. Average annual growth over the past decade was just 3 per cent – so growth in gambling outlay is ‘above average’, according to ABS. 

Meanwhile, digital giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have told Australia’s gambling review board that a proposal to block Australian punters from accessing illegal offshore betting websites is unworkable.

The review, being conducted for the federal government by Barry O'Farrell, the former New South Wales Premier, asked the industry whether blocking illicit websites or halting bank transactions could work as a way of fighting back against the offshore operators.

"We consider there to be fundamental flaws and significant practical difficulties with any attempts to filter the internet such that it may not be possible to automatically block content," the companies said in a joint submission to the government under their Digital Industry Group association.

"Who would determine whether a service is illegal and would entire websites be blocked if there are both legal and illegal services on the website?"

The group said it also has concerns around its own legal liability should it move to prohibit access to commercial websites.

"We have concerns around legal liability in preventing access to commercial websites and question what safe harbours would be provided,” the group said. “There is no existing legal precedent in Australia requiring Internet companies that are not ISPs to filter access to websites.”

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