The world's largest Internet betting exchange operator Betfair has called on Australia to reform the gambling industry to allow online poker and casino games.
The company made the call as part of a submission to a public consultation process on the future of the Australian gambling industry.
Betfair said the Australian government should amend the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, which prohibited online poker and casino games, a move that Betfair says is unenforceable. It claims Australians spend more than A$300 million per year on foreign-based poker sites, money that could be going to local providers.
"Poker has undergone a phenomenal rise in popularity in recent years, and as a result, more and more poker and other card game players are turning to the Web," Betfair said in its submission.
"It is illegal to offer online poker to Australian residents, but that hasn't prevented several large international operators from creating an enormous customer base here - assisted by promotional activities using high profile Australians and cross-selling through 'play for free' sites. It is estimated that more than $300m is bet by Australians annually on online poker - and it's a figure that is rapidly growing."
Prime Minister Rudd commission the investigation last year to update a 1999 study on problem gambling in Australia, as well as to coordinate a review of gambling policy at both federal and state level.
A public hearing and final report are expected later this year after the Productivity Commission receives all its submissions.