Australia Online Gambling in Flux

James, Author

Do you like Australia online gambling and playing online poker and bettting on sports? Well if you live down under this is about to come to an end! Australia’s federal parliament just closed loopholes to ban online poker under changes to gambling laws passed by the Senate on Tuesday which also outlaw in-play sports betting.

This follows a raft of changes to online gambling regulations in Australia throughout 2016. Source for gambling regulation data below is h2gc.com

Australia Online Gambling

The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 was a major milestone for Australian online gambling regulation in the country. The Act prohibited Australian operators from offering online gambling services to the residents while offering sports betting and gambling remained legal, but only with appropriate licenses. Since 2001, there have been many changes and additions to the gaming law.

After considering the Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering, the government fully accepted 14 of 19 presented recommendations, while four were accepted in principle. Some of these recommendations included a national self-exclusion register, ban on credit wagering, establishing a national framework for minimum standards for the gambling industry, etc. As for the in-play betting, although the report suggested that it should be authorised at some point, the government took a stance that such expansion wouldn’t happen in the near future. They also stated they’ll continue to actively work on preventing any operators from offering such services in the country.

The decision had little effect on big bookies like William Hill or Ladbrokes, which continued to offer live betting services. William Hill even went as far as to create a voice-controlled app, where bettors were able to confirm their wagers using their voice (“click to call”), effectively using a legal loophole (as there is no actual “clicking” or “touching” taking place).

Some claim that the government’s decision is driven by the desire to protect big local bookies, like Tabcorp and Tatts. Neither of these companies offers in-play betting, and there are accusations that these legislations are an attempt to avoid competition altogether, instead of trying to keep up the pace.

Online Gambling in Australia

Online Gambling in Australia

Betting on credit

Similarly, the government’s announcement they’ll take steps to prevent betting on credit has had an adverse impact on the bookies. This practice allowed betting operators to provide its bigger players with a line of credit to be used for wagering, with the stipulation that the money would (usually) be paid back within seven days if their bets didn’t go through. This potentially allows punters to play with the money they don’t have, creating problems down the line. The Australian government sees this as a negative practice, as it entices people to play with more money than they’d be willing to put on the line if they actually had to pay beforehand.

Australia Online Gambling Bitcoins

Another important March decision relates to Australia online gambling in bitcoins. The Ministry of Finance announced its intentions to introduce changes which would put an end to double taxation, which is something those using bitcoins have been a subject to due to the current Goods and Sales Tax Law.

May 2016: New Self-Regulatory Code Launched

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) issued the Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communication Code. The Code represents a set of self-regulatory measures that were developed using the process of public consultations, which started in November 2015.

The Code contains some basic rules of conduct in advertising activities, relating to the age of persons depicted in the marketing materials. It also establishes fundamental principles about these materials not being allowed to condone gambling activities as means of relieving someone’s financial problems or achieving sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.

June 2016: NSW and Australian Capital Territory Announce Ban on Greyhound Racing

One of the more interesting regulatory developments in June of 2016 was the decision by New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory to ban all greyhound racing. The ban was announced after an extensive investigation which uncovered high levels of animal cruelty connected to the activity.

The war on Australia online gambling in-play betting continued, as the Northern Territory Racing Commission issued an explicit order for all of its licensees to stop offering “click to call,” the earlier mentioned alternative to in-play betting. The regulator gave all licensees a 28-day window to remove these activities.

The government in Southern Australian State also introduced a point of consumption tax (POCT) on betting to its budget bill. The tax, amounts to 15% of the gross gambling revenue (GGR) for all betting providers and is modelled on the 2014 UK POCT.

Australia Online Gambling

Australia Online Gambling Betting Exchanges

Betting exchanges were allowed in the Northern Territory following a new law passed by the Legislative Assembly. The decision prompted Betfair, the operator offering the biggest online betting exchange in existence, to apply for an operating license.

August 2016: The Ban on Greyhound Racing Overturned; SA Bans eSports Betting

Although there was a strong movement to completely ban greyhound racing activities in NSW, the state government overturned the decision. Instead of the proposed ban, the government will initiate a reform process, with the goal of significantly improving the standards in the industry.

The Sports Commission started looking into proposals to establish a nationwide lottery. Establishing such an institution would have numerous benefits, as the proceeds would be used to finance national sporting causes, including the Olympic teams and individual athletes. However, there are certain legal obstacles that need to be overcome first, as the Australian Constitution in its current form prevents the establishment of the nationwide lottery, be it a traditional or an online model. Governments of individual states are the only ones who can make these decisions, meaning that nothing can be done on the national level unless there is a consensus first.

In other major developments in August, Ian Fletcher of the Australian Wagering Council announced that a new organisation would be set up to represent the industry instead of the AWC. The decision came after William Hill decided to leave the organisation earlier in July, as the body was no longer fully representative of the industry after the departure.

The government of South Australia advised the Independent Gambling Authority (IGA) to disallow betting on eSports events, regardless of the venue where they take place. The reasoning behind the decision was the fact that the video games audience is primarily made up of children, who are particularly vulnerable. By introducing the ban on betting on eSports events, the government hopes to prevent children from being introduced to Australia online gambling under the guise of a game.

November 2016: Norfolk Island Gaming Authority Finally Shut Down

After the initial problems in March and having its licensing powers temporary revoked, the NIGA was finally permanently shut down in November. A deeper investigation that began after the initial discovery revealed that the licensing authority had deeply rooted operations problems that it wouldn’t be able to rectify moving forward. Following the decision, Fiona Nash, the Federal Minister for Local Government and Territories, notified current NIGA licensees that they’d have to obtain a different legitimate license before March 1, 2017, if they wish to continue their operations in Australia.

Minister Tudge introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill. This Bill should serve as an expansion of the 2001 Gambling Act mentioned earlier. Some of the provisions include the explicit prohibition for all gaming operators offering their services to Australian citizens without a proper license, as well as closing all the loopholes that currently make it possible for the operators to offer in-play betting. Finally, the amendments would once again underline the illegality of offering online poker and interactive casino games.

The new bill introduces tougher laws and more severe penalties for those who fail to adhere to the regulations. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is granted power to keep track of the situation and issue appropriate warnings, infringement notices, penalties, and more, as they see fit.

Some of the suggested changes weren’t welcomed by a number of Australian gaming operators, especially the clause that allows betting using electronic devices in land-based shops. Local operators argued that this would effectively allow in-play betting, despite the formal ban on the activity.

The Federal Government also accepted a package containing eleven strategies aimed to minimize the harm caused by gambling activities. These strategies include a ban on credit betting, nationwide self-exclusion program, and more. However, no actual date was established for introducing these measures.

December 2016: Australian Wagering Council Finds its Heir

As announced, the Australian Wagering Council was dissolved, and it was succeeded by a new organization called Responsible Wagering Australia. A number of big operators joined the Council, but William Hill and Ladbrokes, two of the biggest UK-based bookies, declined the invitation to participate in the group’s work.

Australia Online Gambling Ban on Online Casinos

This has all been leading upto Australia’s ban on online casinos! It turns out that Australia has the highest per capita gambling losses in the world so attempts to ban this will just have players turning to the likes of VPNs and other methods to get around the government’s ban.

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