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Australia Looks to Open Up Online Gambling Options

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An interim gambling report completed by the Australian government has recommended legalizing some forms of online poker, giving hope to gambling fans in Australia that they may soon be able to bet on more than just sports online.

An interim gambling report completed by the Australian government has recommended legalizing some forms of online poker, giving hope to gambling fans in Australia that they may soon be able to bet on several different sports and games online.

The interim review of the 2001 Online Gaming Act included more than 30 recommendations to strengthen consumer rights and address current online gambling issues such as whether existing laws are sufficient. Australia's laws banning most forms of online gambling were drawn up more than 11 years ago, long before mobile apps and other technology impacted the online gambling industry.

The report lists more than 2,000 online gambling providers that may be in breach of thecurrent laws by continuing to market to and service residents of Australia, with recommendations to strengthen security measures (including asking ISPs to block all gambling sites) and to spell out harsher penalties for unlicensed providers.

It wasn't all bad news for gamblers, though, as the review recommmended targeting higher-risk forms of gambling such as online slots while loosening restrictions for others, including legalizing some forms of online poker.

Online poker tournaments could be the first form of poker to be legalized, with the fixed nature of the cost -- paying a single entry fee -- making it less dangerous in the eyes of legislators than continuing to spin the virtual reels of a slot machine over and over and over.

Live sports betting online might also be given the green light although micro-betting on cricket and other sports would likely remain illegal. In-play betting is currently legal via phone or in person and could be extended to the Internet. Online micro-bets -- which are placed on frequent events within a game such as a tennis serve or a cricket ball in an over -- would remain illegal online.

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