Coalition Government introduces legislation to combat illegal offshore wagering
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
HON ALAN TUDGE
MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES
10 November 2016
The Coalition Government has today introduced
legislation into the Parliament to combat illegal offshore wagering.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (the Bill) amends the Interactive Gambling Act 2001
(IGA) to implement key parts of the Government’s response to the 2015 O’Farrell
Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering (the Review).
The Review estimated that between $64 million and $400 million is spent on
illegal online wagering services, with a further $100 million annually lost in
taxation revenue and product fees which are important to help fund support
services for problem gamblers. Some illegal offshore providers are also
linked to crime syndicates.
The problem is not just the connection to crime syndicates and lost
revenue. There are greater opportunities for sports corruption with
offshore providers. All Australian licensed providers have agreements
with the sports bodies so that when there are irregular bets associated with
unexpected sport outcomes, they can be interrogated. This is not the case
with offshore providers.
On 28 April this year, the Government released the Review and our response
which accepted 18 of the 19 recommendations in full or in principle.
The Bill is the first stage in implementing the Government’s response to the
Review. The response consists of three parts:
- Crack down on illegal offshore
- Clarify the law by prohibiting
‘click to call’ in-play wagering services to respect the original intent
of the Interactive Gambling Act; and
- Establish a strong National
Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF).
- The Bill introduced today will
implement the first two points by:
- Amending the law to make it clear
that it is illegal for overseas gambling companies to offer gambling
products to Australians unless the person or company holds a licence under
the law of an Australian State or Territory. Currently, the law is
ambiguous as to whether or not it is illegal for offshore wagering
companies to provide gambling products to Australians if they are not
licenced in Australia;
- Empower the Australian
Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with new civil penalties,
complementing the existing criminal penalties powers held by the
Australian Federal Police, and allow ACMA to be responsible for the entire
complaint handling process from receipt to enforcement; and
- Introduce other disruption
measures to curb illegal offshore gambling activity, such as placing
company directors or principals of offending gambling companies on the
Movement Alert List so any travel to Australia can be disrupted.
In addition, the Bill will clarify the law by prohibiting ‘click to call’
in-play wagering services to respect the original intent of the Interactive
In regards to the NCPF, Minister Tudge is meeting with State and Territory
Ministers on 25 November to discuss the NCPF, with measures including (but not
limited to) a national self-exclusion register for online wagering, a voluntary
pre-commitment scheme for online wagering; and a prohibition of lines of credit
being offered by online wagering providers.
Minister Tudge said that many Australians enjoy a punt but we want to make sure
there are sensible protections in place.
“Currently hundreds of illegal gambling services are easily accessible on the
internet and we know that people are more likely to get into trouble online -
2.7 per cent of interactive gamblers are problem gamblers compared to 0.9 per
cent of all gamblers.
“We expect online wagering providers to meet community expectations. The
tougher laws will seriously disrupt illegal offshore providers from acting
unscrupulously or targeting vulnerable Australians.
“The Government committed to taking tougher action against illegal offshore
wagering providers and this Bill does exactly that.”
Minister Fifield said the stronger enforcement mechanisms for the ACMA will
crack down on providers that flout the law.
“The new powers will allow the ACMA to implement civil penalties for breaches
of the IGA provisions and make it easier for people to complain and for those
complaints to be investigated.
“We will also create name and shame lists to be published online which will
make it clearer to consumers which operators are providing illegal services,”
Minister Fifield said.