An agreement has been reached among federal, state, and territory ministers in Australia in a continued effort to crack down on problem online gambling.
Among the items under consensus is a voluntary opt-out scheme for players who think they may have a problem managing their gambling finances. Also, not only will online gaming firms be prohibited from offering lines of credit to their players, online wagering providers will no longer be allowed to provide links to “payday” lenders.
The government will also require that new activity statements must be delivered upon demand as well as at regular intervals.
The ministers are expected to see a national self-exclusion registry established and operational by September. Through the register, players can ban themselves from all sites for periods ranging from three moths to a lifetime.
Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell had earlier conducted a review of illegal offshore wagering and the government has responded with a new National Consumer Protection Framework which should be implemented by year’s end. This should mostly take place through Commonwealth legislation and state licensing changes.
Alan Tudge, Human Services Minister, said the new framework and national gambling research model, which the Turnbull government has promised $1.35 million to, is a milestone. “Many Australians enjoy a punt and the agreement today paves the way for stronger protections for them,” he said, according to local media reports.
The government’s $1.35 million commitment is part of an overall $3 million investment in the programs by federal and state governments. The research model is expected to be operational on 1 July.
“The rate of problem gambling online is three times higher than elsewhere, and online wagering is growing by 15 per cent per annum.
“In the future, more problems will come from online punting unless we have better protections in place,” said Tudge, quoted by The Australian.
The Human Services Minister said the government will be looking at ways to block internet service providers and payment processors in an effort to combat illegal offshore betting.
Some observers have noted that perhaps the number one thing driving problem gambling, which clocks in at three times the rate of other gaming pathologies in the country is the advertising. The ministers seem to have allowed for industry self-regulation which could include bookies advertising as much as they like during a televised sporting event.
Others have noted that although the Commonwealth has clear jurisdiction over online gambling, consumer credit, television and internet advertising; the proposals, including consumer-protection reforms, may almost all be worked out with the states.