Problems with Pokies Becomes Internet Gambling Issue

Problems with Pokies Becomes Internet Gambling IssueThe ongoing problem the Aussies are facing over the out of control use of pokies has lit a fire under anti online gambling politicians.

Online Gambling in Australia is certainly a nationwide problem, but the severity of the problem seems to rise and fall at random as each new batch of alarming statistics is published by this or that agency and seldom do they tally with each other. It doesn’t help that all online gambling with the exception of the lottery and sports betting is actually illegal, although the measures that currently exist to police the practise are woefully inadequate. This is highlighted by the fact that most online casino betting is undertaken on websites owned by foreign based operators who are not penalised in any way by the Australian government for allowing Australian citizens to use their sites.

Unlike the United States, whose lawmakers actively go after those foreign gambling companies that allow US citizens to use their sites and gamble for money and force them to pay heavy fines, the Australian politicians opposed to online gambling seem to vent a lot of hot air but achieve very little by way of tangible results moreĀ This can be seen by reports that show Australians have so far placed around a billion dollars in bets in 2010.

The worse offenders for causing social problems like ruining families and bankrupting people used to be the notorious pokies, or slots, that are sited in clubs and hotels. The pokies are a big attraction and addiction to them has created a subculture of problem gamblers who make up almost 15 percent of all players, numbering around 300,000 in all. At least those pokies used to be the worst of the problem.

Unfortunately, well intentioned politicians stepped in and cracked down on pokie use with draconian measures such as requiring players to identify themselves by registering and even fingerprinting. If politicians would only learn the lessons of history, they would know that any government based attempt to put a lid on any activity which infringes people’s basic rights to freedom of choice only results in pushing that activity underground.

Exactly that has happened with pokie players who value their right to choose whether to play or not and they have deserted the pubs and clubs in their droves. They now stay at home and play online pokies on unregulated foreign websites that will happily take their money and pay their winnings while not paying a penny in taxation.

Jenny Macklin, the Federal Families Minister has vowed to help tackle the problem of online betting in the coming year. Whether she will is yet to be seen, or maybe it’s just some more of that political hot air.