Australian Lawmakers To Probe Online Gambling Damage

September 15, 2022
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A lower house committee in the Australian parliament will probe social damage from online gambling, potentially paving the way for new of controls on the industry.

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A lower house committee in the Australian parliament will probe social damage from online gambling, potentially paving the way for new controls on the industry.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs announced today (September 15) that the inquiry into “online gambling and its impacts on problem gamblers” will receive written submissions until November 11.

Committee chair Peta Murphy of the ruling Labor party said the inquiry is a “fresh look” at the industry and will determine if “laws, regulations, consumer protections and education and support programs are enough to reduce harm to gamblers”.

Murphy was also explicit that the committee is setting out from an assumption that online gaming in Australia needs to be pared back in some way.

“The committee is concerned about the increasing reach of online gambling platforms into Australians’ lives, the exposure of children and young people to gambling advertising and how this may contribute to increases in problem gambling in the future,” she said.

In her call for submissions, Murphy was also clear that the committee wants to hear from players themselves and that their contributions will be marked as confidential if requested.

The terms of reference include examining existing policies such as the online gaming National Consumer Protection Framework, outreach programs for problem gamblers, and the efficacy of “current regulatory and licensing regimes” in protecting users.

The terms of reference also re-litigate high levels of gaming advertising in Australian media, and will explore whether children are sufficiently protected during live sports broadcasts, and from social media promotions, sponsorship and branding.

In addition, the use of the definition “gambling service” in the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 will come under scrutiny, asking whether it should be amended to include loot boxes, social casino gaming and other peripheral “gambling-like” gaming.

The committee will also delve into the territory regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which identifies foreign websites targeting Australian users and requires internet service providers to block them.

The committee’s brief is to assess the “effectiveness of protections against illegal online gambling services, including casino-style gambling such as blackjack and slot machines”.

The announcement of the committee probe marks another warning for Australia’s world-beating gambling sector, which is under fire across most land-based and online segments over money laundering risk, criminal associations, token or ineffectual responsible gaming programmes, tax evasion and problem gambling impacts.

Corporate bookmakers continue to be prosecuted at a regular rate in New South Wales state amid warnings about repeated advertising breaches, while Isle of Man-based Entain’s Australian operation is now the subject of an “enforcement investigation” by financial crime enforcer AUSTRAC.

Bookmakers are also bracing for likely point of consumption (POC) tax hikes across all states and territories after Queensland state proposed an increase in its POC tax rate from 15 to 20 percent.

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