The Courier-Mail

Minister bets on gaming review

- DANIEL MEERS

A CRITICAL review into the booming illegal and tax-free offshore wagering industry will be announced today.

Almost 60 per cent of the $1.6 billion online gaming industry is going offshore to more than 2000 sites outside Aussie regulators’ control.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison will appoint former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell to head the widerangin­g review with a report to be completed by December.

Mr Morrison said illegal offshore wagering companies were operating in Australia but were ripping off racing and sports authoritie­s by not paying product fees, avoiding Australian taxes and provided limited protection for punters to withdraw their winnings.

“Unlike Australia’s licensed operators, overseas agencies don’t contribute product fees to racing and sporting bodies, do not comply with Australia’s legal system and are not obligated to monitor and report suspicious betting activity,’’ Mr Morrison said.

The review will centre around the 2001 Interactiv­e Gambling Act which has been outdated by rapid changes to technology. It is likely the Act will be changed once the review is completed.

The review’s terms of reference will investigat­e four core areas:

The economic impacts of illegal offshore wagering and transactio­ns;

Internatio­nal regulatory regimes that could be adopted in Australia;

Other technologi­cal and legislativ­e options available to mitigate the costs of illegal offshore wagering; and

Efficacy of approaches aimed at protecting consumers.

Mr Morrison, (pictured), said the review was critical to the wagering industry.

Mr Morrison said the review would also look at problem gambling in Australia.

“More than 400,000 Australian­s, mainly men, have gambling problems. These issues can affect hundreds of thousands of Australian families and the children growing up in them,’’ he said. The review has bipartisan support with crossbench­er Nick Xenophon pushing for the review for several years.

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