In May this year, the federal government proposed legalization of internet poker games in a review
Some interesting figures about online gambling in Australia were recently published by The Canberra Times although originating from a 2010 survey.
Commenting on the possible legalization of online gaming in the land downunder, the newspaper reports that 130,000 Aussies used offshore internet gambling websites in 2010, generating annual revenues of more than A$68 million for foreign operators.
Presently, online casino games, including poker, are illegal in Australia. However, in May this year the federal government issued an interim review of interactive gaming laws suggesting legalization of internet poker games, as part of overall liberalising of industry.
The quoted numbers stem from the survey issued by the German research company Academicon and from figures provided by the University of Hamburg in Germany as per which in 2010, 36,000 Aussies from New South Wales alone played at internet gambling sites and another 31,915 were regularly active in the territory of Victoria.
As a comparison, the Productivity Commission estimated that up to $800 million could be spent on online gambling in 2010 with $249 million on online poker alone. Additionally, 363,100 poker accounts were active in Australia in 2008 according to the Commission.
Yet, the German study shows that the majority of users played only occasionally, betting small amounts, spending short time usually at only one table.
''Liberalisation of online gambling is feasible and should start as the Productivity Commission suggested with the liberalisation of online poker, but not before serious and nationally consistent harm minimisation measures are properly regulated by the federal government, not the states,'' said Public Health expert Charles Livingstone of Monash University.
He also told The Canberra Times that the figures were not surprising, adding that it was likely the figure was on the low side of current use, adding that ''In any event, the data held by the University of Hamburg's database is undoubtedly useful, but probably not as a source of overall prevalence or expenditure figures.”