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Digital technologies are rapidly changing Australia’s gambling industry.
The 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering (the Review) noted that online wagering is the fastest growing gambling segment, with over $1.4 billion gambled online each year. Digital technology is also enabling operators to reach our phones, our televisions, our home computers at any time of the day or night.
The Review also noted that Australians are losing between $64 million and $400 million every year betting in illegal offshore sites, and this means tax revenue is also lost. In the online world, the proportion of problem gambling is three times higher than in other forms of gambling.
The Government is delivering on its commitments outlined in the Response to the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering with stronger consumer protection as the centrepiece of these reforms.
Government’s Response to Illegal Offshore Wagering
On 28 April 2016, the Government announced its response to the recommendations of the Review, supporting 18 of the Review’s 19 recommendations. This commitment included a three-staged approach:
- The establishment of a National Consumer Protection Framework (National Framework) for online wagering, was announced on 30 November 2018.
- Amending the law to make it clear that it is illegal for unlicensed overseas gambling companies to offer gambling products to Australians. The Australian Communications and Media Authority is empowered to have stronger enforcement mechanisms, enacted in the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017.
- Investigating the feasibility of other disruptions measures to curb illegal offshore gambling activity, including voluntary Internet Service Provider (ISP) blocking and financial payment blocking. The Government is currently examining the outcomes of extensive consultations on this final stage of its reform package.
On 26 February 2019, new rules came into force that significantly reduce the customer verification period for new online wagering consumers from 90 days to a maximum of 14 days. This is the first measure delivered under the National Framework, since its announcement late last year. The measure will be reviewed in 12 months with the intention of further reducing the verification period to 72 hours.
National Framework announcement
On 30 November 2018, the Commonwealth made a public announcement of the joint National Framework. This has been developed in close consultation with the state and territory governments and key stakeholders over two years.
The National Framework provides – for the first time – strong, nationally consistent protections for consumers of Australian interactive wagering providers.
Restrictions on gambling advertising
On 6 May 2017, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts, announced the Broadcast and Content Reform Package. The package includes further restrictions on gambling advertising in live sporting events across all platforms to reduce the exposure of children to gambling.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has also recently implemented the restrictions for online platforms. These new rules came into effect on 28 September 2018 and mark the first time ‘broadcast like’ restrictions have been applied to online content services in Australia, providing consistency across broadcast, subscription and online.
On 30 March 2018, the gambling advertising restrictions commenced following the registration of revised broadcast industry codes of practice by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Betting restrictions and online wagering in Australia - A review of current knowledge
The Betting restrictions and online wagering in Australia – A review of current knowledge is a report prepared by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC), Australian Institute of Family Studies, and commissioned by the Department of Social Services.
In September 2015, the Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering recommended that further research be undertaken on the impact of betting restrictions imposed by Australian licensed bookmakers on illegal offshore wagering and the identification of options to improve the situation.
In responding to Recommendation 15 of the Review, the Commonwealth Government commissioned the AGRC to investigate the current extent of betting restrictions and the impact of these restrictions in driving consumers to illegal offshore wagering operators.
The AGRC’s report, Betting restrictions and online wagering in Australia – A Review of current knowledge, provides a range of options for consideration, noting its interaction with other reform areas and the need for further research. The Commonwealth and state and territory governments are currently considering the findings of this report.
Gambling Measures Act 2012
The Gambling Measures Act 2012 took effect on 31 March 2014 and outlines the Commonwealth’s commitment to consult on the development of venue based voluntary pre-commitment in realistic timeframes.