Aussie MP Seeks iGaming Crackdown: Australia In Top 10 Gambling Nations

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:
Mar/07/2011

G'day punters, gamers, legal eagles, law enforcement officials, politicians...one and all. Today a couple more members of Australian Parliament are seeking a crackdown on igaming aka online gambling in Australia. In the meantime, Australia maintains its top 10 status as a gambling nation, thought to be currently about lucky #7 on the list. Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com and Gambling911 with the crackdown report...

The so called "Independent" MP Andrew Wilkie is ramping up his eagle eye on online gambling, telling numerous Australian press here is strong evidence it is a significant problem and only likely to worsen. Wilkie will request the parliamentary committee to reform the "Wild West" industry, according to the report, after Australians dropped around $1 billion in online gambling last year. While betting on sports and horse racing is legal in Australia, several other online gaming websites and web portals exist, despite some being illegal. People who play the online games are not breaking the law, according to Fairfax Media, a situation Wilkie desires to reverse. "We need to get in here and nip it in the bud, and avoid getting into the situation we have with poker machines, where it's so big and entrenched," Wilkie said. Fairfax Media and competitor, News Limited, already carry a number of wagering options on their website network, mixing in news, pr, sports betting and games (play for free or play for money), a formula other media companies such as Media Man have also followed with significant success. 

A Media Man spokesperson said "Offering a wide array of promotions, brands, content, even games, is a popular formula for many Australian media companies in the current landscape. Fairfax Media, News Limited, as well as our Australian and international arm, also offer a range of games, some of which can be played for free or for money. News Limited, Fairfax, nor ourselves, are casinos or sports betting agencies, but we can offer the reader access via b2b agreements. Many legal eagles in Australia believe that Australian laws pertaining to the internet, b2b, affiliates, content sharing and the like are not up to speed with the rest of the world. We believe that the Liberal Party is better equipped to embrace b2b commerce better than the Australian Labour party, but it would be great to see us proved wrong. News Limited, Fairfax Media and Media Man cover over a dozen different business sectors, and gaming, igaming and sports betting are just a couple of them. Betting enjoys a cross over with sport, and gaming also enjoys a cross over with movies themes, be it Marvel Entertainment or Paramount Pictures branded games. Poker is also popular, with big brands such as PartyGaming offering satellites on a yearly basis to the world famous Aussie Millions conducted at James Packer's Crown Casino. iGaming is a big part of the future of b2b commerce this year, and will continue to be. Legal eagles will be busy as the battle for hearts and minds continues, and that's no bluff".

Australia Remains In World's Top 10 Gambling Nations In 2011...

The dinkim Aussies are known for lots of things on the world stage... great beaches, women, beers, great boobs, wildlife, champion athletes, and now, gambling nuts. Yep, some of the world's most passionate punters still call Australia home.

Would you believe there's 1 one armed bandit for 110 people down under. That puts Aussie Land squarely in the top 10 gambling havens, right up there with Monaco (famous for James Bond casino antics) and Macau (hello our friends at James Packer's City of Dreams).

The Aussies have the 8th highest total number of gambling machines, with roughly 187,000 in pubs and clubs aka "pokie palaces", industry stats tell a story of.

Anti-gambling activists aka "gambling haters" and "casino haters" are strongly encouraging the Gillard - ALP Government to adopt a "stop, revive, survive" style approach...similar to the safe driving campaign, in order to assist poker machine reform and introduce a mandatory cut-off period to help people break their habits... if they have a habit, if you follow our lead.

"The player logs in with his or her personal code and the machine stops after, for example, two hours' playing," researcher Charlotte Fabiansson said in research provided to the Government by the Social Justice and Social Change Research Group at the University of Western Sydney.

"The player can choose to take a 15 or 30 minutes, break or take out eventual winnings and leave the machine."

Under Dr Fabiansson's prop, the pokie used by the players would be untouched during their "revive" breaks.

The player should not be able switch to a new machine without the revive break," she said.

Numbers coming from the manufactures of gaming machines show Australia ranks 7th on an worldwide list of pokies per head with one machine for every 110 people.

First place goes to "lucky winner" Monaco, which has one machine for every 16 people. Japan and the Netherlands Antilles were also in the top 10. Countries giving Australia a run for its money include New Zealand and Britain, who rates closer to one machine for every 300 people. 

Don't ask us if sheep also play in New Zealand... we don't want to know, but an insider joked "some Kiwi poker machine players are a bit like sheep, even if they don't have wool and have 2 legs instead of 4". The smart ass was having a sledge, and was not at all serious.

Australia is currently 7th we understand for the total number of gaming machines with approx 187,000, but insiders say we are quickly rose to lucky 7th position in bragging rights.

Britain has roughly 217,000 machines but, but has triple the population, has far fewer per capita.

Both the current and former Australian Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, are not big fans of poker machines, with Rudd appearing to have the most hate towards the one armed bandits.

Gillard have recently felt the wrath of the powerful Australian clubs and pubs associations like Clubs Australia and ClubsNSW. Gillards's ALP is up against strong competition from the Aussie states and territories, and the mighty gaming industry.

Last year the Australian Productivity Commission proposed cutting cash payments down to $250 from the present $2000 limit, banning ATM's from all venues and increasing the present shutdown limit for poker machines from 6 hours per day in yet another attempt to fix "problem gambling".

Some of Australia's major banks and financial institutions have also jumped on board the campaign against many of the proposed changes.

They in fact wrote to the Federal Government a few times to state that a plan to limit withdrawal amounts and move ATMs further away from gaming areas would not work.

Anti-pokies campaigner and so called independent Senator Nick Xenophon called on the Federal Government to bypass the states and take action on its own.

"It shouldn't be underestimated what a powerful vested interest the pokie machine industry is from clubs to casinos to manufacturers. Of course they are squealing," he said.

Senator Xenophon said the Federal Government should use its taxation powers to make pokie machines unprofitable.

"It's a question of political will. I believe Kevin Rudd was genuine when he said he hated the pokies and the damage they did to families. But how will those strong words translate into action? He has talked the talk and now he has to walk the walk," Senator Xenophon said. Mr X was talking of Rudd, and he's been just as vocal this year calling on Julia Gillard to step up. Xenophon always has something to say, which is good, as it helps fill up news reports on the touchy subject of gambling.

Mr X has also recently brought more attention to online gambling, which has taken off in a big way down under, with slots and sports betting leading the charge. Media Man data shows that Hollywood and entertainment themed games from the likes of Marvel Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and FremantleMedia are some of the most popular. Even companies behind the the image of Frank Sinatra, Rambo (StudioCanal) and Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs) have jumped on the gambling bandwagon, with more tipped to follow.

Recently James Packer associated media company, Ten Network Holdings, let it be known they see a place for more gambling programming, and leaks say to expect to see a gambling show or channel. Packer recently stepped down from the Ten board, but gaming and igaming remains on their agenda. Insiders say it will be much bigger than 'The Poker Star' which was fronted by former Australian poker world champion (WSOP) Joe Hachem, who these days is one of the faces of Crown Casino, the other being mate, Shane Warnie, never short of a headline or spinning yarn. Network Ten has also recently launched Channel 'Eleven' and insiders say the channel is just begging for gambling shows, adding to the promos currently being seen. Warnie and Hachem also get regular features in the Australian newspapers about their passion for poker and gambling, and both are keen to please their mate and associate, James Packer, the king of Australian gambling, who is now once again a major force in the Australian media landscape. The UK's Virgin king, Richard Branson, has also been watching the Australian gambling and gaming space closely, and has met with 'Our James' at least one time. Branson is understood to not want to do anything in Australia until "grey areas" are cleared up, while Warne's and Hachem's brands appear full speed ahead, as are PartyGaming including its World Poker Tour, PartyPoker and branded games, with more overseas firms wanting to make more of a mark down under including Paddy Power, William Hill Online, PKR and Playtech. PartyGaming's World Poker Tour continues to be broadcast into Australia via Foxtel - Fox Sports and Fox8 we understand, with Foxtel interested to broadcast more poker and casino themed content down under, pushed along by online promotions and b2b agreements, ready for the next range of interactive television developments, (which will have to be signed off by Senator Stephen Conroy and friends, we suspect). The ACMA is also closely monitoring the situation.

A Media Man spokesperson said "Many of the UK and Gibraltar based igaming and gaming companies see Australia and Tasmania are maybe just the next Gibraltar and Alderney, two regions known to be gambling friendly." They went on to clarify "Well, maybe if or when the Australian Liberal Party win the next election. I'm tipping its when, not if". 

Media Man conducted a recent street research on the subject of gambling and the results showed that most Australian adults of legal age up do enjoy a punt. Only 1 person in a batch of 10 found gambling "evil", with everyone else saying it was a personal choice. 60% of those who took the survey likened the Australian government's war on pub pokies as to their battle with the Australian mining companies (which many feel left the Australian government with egg on its face).

Stay tuned daily for more on the Australian pokie, gambling and casino wars.

Gillard, Packer, Murdoch (both of you sirs), Branson, Ryan, Trump, Gyngell and Turnbull - you're throw of the dice!

Take the time to research and learn games before placing down money

Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com Casino News Media http://www.casinonewsmedia.com and Gambling911 are website portals. Not casinos as such, however are recognised as world leading websites that cover the sector and act as central points to games, news, reviews and more.

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Will Australian ever get to #1 position for gambling?  Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen sectors covered

*the writer owns shares in Crown Limited, Ten Network Holdings and Virgin.

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