Licensed operators welcome Australian review

Licensed operators welcome Australian review

Monday, September 7, 2015 Totally Gaming
Minister Scott Morrison says the review will report by the end of 2015

Domestic and foreign-based gaming companies have told TotallyGaming.com that they want the review into Australian online gaming laws to come down hard on unlicensed offshore operators.

Ladbrokes and Tabcorp were in agreement that companies that were able to sidestep the nation’s laws by offering a wide range of unregulated products across unlicensed websites put those playing by the rules at a disadvantage.

Ladbrokes Australia managing director Dean Shannon told TotallyGaming.com that the knock-on effect was that it was becoming increasingly difficult for licensed operators to both compete and construct a meaningful responsible gambling framework, and called on the review confirmed today (Monday) by Social Services Minister Scott Morrison to focus on these areas.

Shannon said: “While the existing regulatory framework within Australia is sound it is old and behind some more progressive jurisdictions.

“We hope that an updated framework will create a more level playing field as currently unlicensed and unregulated operators can offer products which regulated onshore operators cannot.

“In our view it makes no sense that an Australian citizen can bet with offshore operators yet we are unable to offer competing products. 

“This will ensure that Ladbrokes can offer harm minimisation, appropriate age verification and responsible gambling framework to the Australian public.”

Morrison said that the review of online wagering in Australia, and the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) that was passed some 14 years ago, is to be undertaken by former New South Wales premier Barry O'Farrell and should make its recommendations before the end of the year.

Morrison noted that almost 60 per cent of the Aus$1.6bn (€1.0bn/$1.1bn) online gambling industry is going offshore to more than 2,000 sites beyond the control of Australian regulators, with just 30 operators running legal sites in the country at present.

A Tabcorp spokesman told TotallyGaming.com: “Tabcorp welcomes the review as the IGA has not kept pace with industry and technological changes.

“We believe that the IGA needs to protect consumers, and the agency responsible for its administration requires stronger powers to prosecute offenders and impose penalties.

“Tabcorp continues to advocate for a consistent approach across the country to online gambling, with rules which are enforced. The practice of some wagering operators offering online in-play betting, in breach of the IGA, needs to be addressed.

“We believe regulations need to be tightened up on unlicensed offshore operators. Wagering operators should be licensed in Australia in order to be able to take bets from Australian residents. Countries such as France and the UK have taken such action.

“Differences in areas such as product availability, racing industry fees and taxation are also undermining racing and government funding.”

Morrison said today that the terms of reference for the review include the economic impacts of illegal sites on legal Australian businesses, international measures and options to educate the public - including warnings and campaigns.

“Unlike Australia's licensed operators, overseas agencies don't contribute product fees to racing and sporting bodies, do not comply with Australia's legal system and are not obligated to monitor and report suspicious betting activity,” Morrison said.

“Illegal offshore wagering also leaves Australian punters without protection for payouts on their winnings.”

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