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31 May 2012

Australia to liberalise online gambling?

Last year we asked “How well does the Interactive Gambling Act work?”. It appears the answer is not so well. On 29 May 2012, the Department for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy released an Interim Report outlining potential changes to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

Apparently evidence indicates that the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) is having an extremely small impact on meeting the primary objective of reducing harm to problem gamblers and individuals vulnerable to becoming problem gamblers.

Is liberalising online live betting and virtual gaming while implementing harm minimisation and consumer protections the answer?

Major changes to the online aspects of the IGA suggested by the Interim Report

Online gaming

Legalise and licence virtual online gaming sites on the proviso that the sites:

  • only offer to Australians online tournament poker, apparently the "lowest risk" type of online gaming, and cease to provide Australians with access to higher-risk online gaming services; and
  • implement the proposed national standard on harm minimisation and consumer protections recommended in the Interim Report.

Online wagering

  • Allow online "in play" sports wagering by implementing platform neutral rules for "in play" wagering (eg. the Interim Report states "applying the same rules to online wagering as are used for wagering on the telephone or at physical venues").
  • Prohibit "micro-betting", being wagering on particular high frequency events in sports games (the Interim Report uses the examples of "the outcome of the next ball in a cricket match or the next point in a tennis match") through all platforms (telephone, internet and at physical venues).
  • Limit sports wagering types to those approved by the State/Territory regulatory authority and where appropriate, the relevant sports controlling body. This is an attempt to maintain integrity in sport (eg. prevent match fixing).

What happens now?

Submissions on the interim report are due by 25 June 2012.

Clayton Utz will continue to closely monitor developments and we are happy to assist interested parties.

 

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.