No more loopholes for foreign casino operators in Australia

Published on November 19, 2016 in Industry News

Australian online casino billThe Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 has been introduced by Australian Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield and Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge.
 

Closing a loophole

The bill will make a number of changes to the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) and push unlicensed online gambling operators out of the market. The new legislation will also close a loophole that allows customer to bet in-play.
 

“Steps are being taken to improve the country’s gambling regulations after former New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell made a series of recommendations in a report published late 2015.”

Earlier this year the government responded to the recommendations by setting out a three-point plan. They aimed to close the in-play loophole, stop unlicensed operators, and establish a national consumer protection framework. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill aims to fulfil the first two promises. The bill will also try to end the grey market status of the non-sports betting products in by ensuring that only licensed Australian casinos and companies have the right to offer gambling services.

The bill will redefine in-play betting to close the loophole which operators have used to offer bets on on-going sporting events. By changing the language of the IGA the loophole will be closed to any foreign operators. In his recommendation, O’Farrell said that the language used in the original legislation is unclear and open to interpretation.
 

Unclear language

The unclear language used in the 2001 Act is exploited by a number of operators who offer unlicensed online casino and poker in the country while current legislation only allows sports betting. According to O’Farrell, AUD$400m is spent on gambling via offshore sports, casino, and poker operators every year, this causes a yearly loss of $100m in taxes and product fees.

The bill will give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the power to impose civil penalties on any in breach. The ACMA will also oversee gambling-related complaint handling processes done by the Australian Federal Police. Gambling company directors or executives on Australia’s Movement Alert List will also be arrested if they do travel to the country in an effort to tackle unlicensed activity. Operators in breach of the amended act will not only be named and shamed by the government but the information on breaches of the IGA will also be sent to regulatory bodies in other countries.

Tudge will meet the State and Territory Ministers on the 25th of November to discuss the national consumer protection framework which will include measures such as a national self-exclusion register and a voluntary pre-commitment scheme for online wagering. 

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill will go to the Australian senate for discussion and has to gain approval from the Labour Party or cross-bench Senators to pass into law.