9 August 2017
The Turnbull Government’s online gambling reforms passed the Senate today.
The passage of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (the Bill) will see a crackdown on illegal offshore providers, the clarification of the law in relation to ‘click to call’ in-play betting and a prohibition on wagering providers offering lines of credit.
These changes will be complemented by other significant consumer protections that have been agreed with the states and territories, including a national self-exclusion register and a voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme.
Together, these represent the most significant set of online gambling reforms introduced by a federal government.
Following recommendations of the O’Farrell Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering, the Bill will crack down on illegal offshore gambling providers, ensuring that more money and jobs are kept in the country. It will also ensure that Australians are not inadvertently funding crime syndicates, which some overseas providers are connected to. The specific measures in the Bill to do this include:
Amending the law to make it clear it’s illegal for overseas gambling companies to offer products to Australians unless they hold a licence under State or Territory laws;
Empowering the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with new civil penalties, complementing existing Australian Federal Police criminal penalties powers and allowing ACMA to be responsible for the entire complaint handling process from receipt to enforcement; and
Introducing other disruption measures to curb illegal offshore gambling activity, such as placing offending company directors on the Movement Alert List so any travel to Australia can be disrupted.
The O’Farrell Review estimated between $64 million and $400 million is spent on illegal online wagering services, with a further $100 million annually lost in taxation revenue and product fees which are important to help fund support services for problem gamblers.
The Bill also clarifies the law in relation to ‘click to call’ in-play wagering to respect the original intent of the Interactive Gambling Act.
Online wagering companies will also be prohibited from offering lines of credit under the new laws. The Government believes there is too much of a conflict of interest for a gambling company to be both a betting provider and a bank offering credit to facilitate that betting.
These important reforms are complemented by the Government’s media reform package which includes further restrictions on gambling advertising during live sports programs.
Minister Tudge said that these reforms will make a significant difference in keeping money and jobs in Australia and providing sensible consumer protections for gamblers.
“We are presently losing hundreds of millions of dollars to illegal offshore gambling providers, some of which are connected to crime syndicates. These changes will help keep this money in Australia.
“Online gambling has three times the rate of problem gambling than other forms and is growing the fastest. Unless we put in sensible consumer protections now, the problems of the future will be in this area.
“These reforms, along with the other initiatives we are implementing with the states, provide a safer gambling environment, while still allowing people to enjoy a punt.”
Minister Fifield said the stronger enforcement mechanisms for the ACMA will crack down on the hundreds of illegal gambling services that are easily accessible on the internet.
“The new powers will allow the ACMA to implement civil penalties for breaches of the IGA provisions, plus they will make the complaints process, and investigations, easier.
“We will also publish online lists of licenced wagering providers in Australia which will help punters identify legal sites,” Minister Fifield said.