Online bill passes Australian Senate

Online bill passes Australian Senate

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 Posted by Scott Longley
Harsher regulations and penalties introduced

The Australian senate has approved amendments to the country’s Interactive Gambling bill that means that credit betting is now banned and which formalises the ban on online poker that has already seen operators exit the market.

The amendments bill had previously received approval form Australia’s lower house but it will now return to the House of Representatives for final approval before becoming law in the coming weeks.

The ramifications of the passing of the bill are already apparent. 888 said it would be pulling its poker offer in Australia in January and PokerStars’ parent company Amaya has also said it will be looking at halting its poker offer to Australians once the law came into effect.

Separately, the Australian government is current discussing a new consumer protection plan under which a federally-levied point of consumption (PoC) tax would be introduced.

Paul Leyland, partner at gambling consultancy Regulus Partners, said the new regime as proposed represents a “full swing of the pendulum away from the previous federal position, where unlicensed offshore activity was outside the regulatory ambit and went unsanctioned.”

He added that the reaction of operators to the passing of the interactive bill amendments was rapid, pointing to the planned ‘Stars departure. “The reaction of black market operators offering these products to the very valuable but now less-well competed Australian market remains to be seen - it’s unlikely to get the same publicity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Australian media is reporting split among operators based in the country over the lobbying effort in the country. According to newspaper stories, both William Hill and Ladbrokes  have declined the opportunity to join the new representative body, Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), which replaced the disbanded Australian Wagering Council and represents Paddy Power Betfair’s Sportsbet, Bet365, Unibet and James Packer's CrownBet.

The RWA has proposed that operators voluntarily move to end credit betting and also look to lessen the amount of advertising around sporting events, concessions that William Hill in particular is thought to have been unwilling to countenance.

The pair are also thought to be unconvinced about the chances of the RWA moving the dial on the bigger issues facing the sector after the previous body failed to prevent the federal government legislating against online in-play betting.

Totally Gaming says: The picture in Australia is becoming more complicated for the online operators with issues around advertising and PoC tax plans providing a familiar backdrop for operators from Europe. What is for certain is that life will be tougher and the days when operators within the country could skirt around laws, such as with the in-play clock-to-call issue, are at an end. However, at the same time the confusions caused by the online gaming ban – and in particular the poker ban – won’t be settled any time soon.

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