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Australian Federal Government Considers Potential Deposit Limits

Tue, Apr 30, 10:10pm by Kevin Pitstock

Stephen Conroy

Stephen Conroy

The national government of Australia is considering a new law on player deposit limits which could affect the way people gamble online. Citing a need for relevant and robust consumer protections, Steven Conroy, Communications Minister of Australia, is asking for state and territorial authorities to help implement a new standard.

This new law would allow citizens to set their own deposit limits at an online gambling website, hoping to limit the harm caused by problem gambling at online websites. The law would allow a gambler to set the amount they can pay into a website beforehand . Instead of making rash decisions in the heat of the contest, the theory is players would make sounder judgements about how much money they can afford to lose online.

No Ban on Poker or Bookmakers

In an interesting twist, Mr Conroy said the government would not recommend similar limits at online poker rooms or Internet bookmakers. The reason for the distinction is the rapid betting methods at computer speeds for pokies, keno games, and video scratch offs–all of which have a high house edge.

One might wonder whether a Texas holdem player who just lost an all-in bet against an opponent who’s been taunting them in the live chat is any less passionate than a pokies gambler who just lost the virtual bankroll, but Australian authorities want to be seen managing the problem.

Australia’s Gambling Legacy

Gambling is a key part of life to Aussies, with approximately 80% of the adult population engaged in regular gambling. The industry is a major source of revenue for the government of Australia. While it does not tax player winnings, the federal government does tax gaming organizations on their profits (player losses). The central authority has tended to allow local agencies to handle gaming regulation, devolving licensing and oversight to a patchwork of racing commissions and gaming agencies.

In the 21st century, the central authority is taking a more active hand. Online gambling is a major reason for this shift in policy. Due to the international nature of so much online gaming, the national politicians believe it’s their purview to oversee how the industry functions. As the industry has grown to include over $15 billion a year in federal revenues, the interest in the industry has only increased.

Will Deposit Limits Work?

Public policy groups who advocate for greater oversight laud the efforts of lawmakers to find new ways to end problem gambling. Those opposed to more regulations are likely to point to the superficial nature of the remedy, as limitations on gambling are still made by the people with the issues. Whether they are more reasonable in setting limits remains to be seen. Those who don’t want a federal overhaul of the system might be happy that federal officials are only asking for assistance by the state and local officials.

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