Australian ban on Net gambling comes closer

The Australian federal government has announced it plans to conduct a study into the feasibility and consequences of banning interactive gambling.

          The Australian federal government has announced it plans to conduct a study into the feasibility and consequences of banning interactive gambling.

          The future of interactive gambling has been a topic of heated debate since the government announced earlier this year it plans to pass legislation to impose a 12-month moratorium on the provision of new interactive gambling services.

          According to Richard Alston, the minister for communications, information technology and the arts, the government is concerned that Australia's growing gambling problem will be exacerbated by the introduction of interactive gambling. Alston was also the driving force behind Australia's controversial Internet censorship laws.

          "This study will focus on ways in which a ban can be implemented, and the technical, social and economic consequences of such a ban," Alston said.

          According to officials, the scope of the study will include gambling through interactive media such as broadcasting, radio communications and Internet-type services.

          Several Australian state governments have already voiced their concern regarding the ban and the loss of revenues generated from lucrative gambling taxes. Additionally, the government is facing opposition from commercial businesses that plan to, or already have, established Internet gambling services in Australia.

          Several organizations, including the Federal Group, which recently launched its Internet service, have already said they plan to seek compensation should the legislation be passed and their services suspended.

          The National Office of the Information Economy, in consultation with the Department of Family and Community Services and the Treasury, will conduct the study.

          Submissions from industry groups and the public will be accepted by mid-August.

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