CANBERRA, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Australia is set to crack down on illegal offshore gambling, with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison flagging a review of betting operators conducting business in Australia.
Morrison said on Monday that while online betting and gambling is a 1.1 billions U.S. dollar industry in Australia, more than 60 percent of operators do not pay tax.
He said the government would be undertaking a "serious review" of the nation's gambling laws.
"According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) online gambling is a $1.6 billion dollar business in Australia with sixty percent of this revenue going offshore to more than 2, 000 sites beyond the reach of our regulators and tax collectors," Morrison said in a statement.
"Unlike Australia's licensed operators, overseas agencies don't contribute product fees to racing and sporting bodies, do not comply with Australia's legal system and are not obligated to monitor and report suspicious betting activity."
"Illegal offshore wagering also leaves Australian punters without protection for payouts on their winnings."
Morrison said gambling addiction affects hundreds of thousands of Australians and by not properly monitoring and taxing these offshore companies, many are susceptible to losing a lot more than their money.
"More than 400,000 Australians, mainly men, have gambling problems. These issues can affect hundreds of thousands of Australian families and the children growing up in them," he said.
"Problem gambling can also have a significant impact on social services and welfare spending such as income support payments, financial counseling and measures to address domestic violence.
"It is critical that we undertake a serious review of the impact of these illegal offshore operations on Australian consumers as well as our racing and sports industries and identify ways in which we can work to curb these impacts. It is especially important we look at what can be done to protect individuals vulnerable to problem gambling."
Morrison said the internal government review would begin immediately, with former New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell to oversee the investigation.
The final recommendations are expected to be passed on to parliament by Dec. 18.