In April 2016, the Australian Federal Government proposed to introduce a National Consumer Protection Framework relating to online wagering (NCPF) in accordance with the recommendations of the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering (O’Farrell Review). Australia does not currently have a nationally consistent consumer protection framework in place which relates specifically to online wagering. Instead, consumer protection relating to wagering which addresses harm minimisation issues in Australia is regulated differently in each State and Territory. This causes difficulties for Australian licensed wagering operators conducting business on a national basis.
On 25 November 2016, and 27 April 2017 (April Meeting), the Ministers of all Australian states and territories met to consider the measures to be included in the NCPF. Addisons outlined these measures in our Focus Papers; “A National Consumer Protection Framework for Australian Online Licensed Wagering Operators: Proposed Changes”1, and “Australia – Release of Report on Illegal Offshore Wagering – Another Missed Opportunity for Reform of Australia’s Prohibitions on Online Gambling?”2.
The Consultation Paper
Following the April Meeting, the Federal Department of Social Services released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS)3 which outlines the proposed options for addressing nine of the eleven measures that the state and territory ministers agreed will form part of the NCPF.
The RIS proposes multiple options for the implementation of each of the proposed measures which are outlined in the Schedule to this Focus Paper. The options range from a continuance of the current regime, to the full implementation of regulations on a consistent national basis. These regulations will impact principally on Australian licensed wagering operators, who will bear the costs for the implementation of the NCPF. Those measures which are most onerous are likely to be subject to a transitional period.
At this stage, it is not clear if these measures will be introduced by federal legislation.4 However, it is the Government’s objective that these measures be introduced in each state and territory.
The establishment of a national regulator is not proposed by the RIS. Also unclear is the extent to which these measures will incorporate the existing regulatory framework.
Who will be affected?
The RIS proposes that the NCPF will apply only to licensed wagering operators, including to the extent that those operators offer telephone betting services.5 Under the proposed model NCPF set out in the RIS, operators who offer land based wagering services which incorporate services provided online, for example, via terminals in retail betting shops, pubs, clubs and hotels, will be exempt from the NCPF.
The RIS suggests that a separate process will be implemented by the Federal Government to address advertising restrictions during the broadcasting of live sporting events. The Government has announced that these measures will be introduced as part of the media reform package announced by the Minister for Communication on 6 May 2017.6
As part of the announcement relating to the RIS, it is proposed that a nationwide gambling research project be undertaken to assist with the development and evaluation of informed policy responses to gambling and its impact in Australia. It is intended that this project will be conducted under a partnership agreement between the States and Territories. On 14 July 2017, the Federal Minister for Human Services and Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation announced a jointly funded $300,000 research investment to analyse wagering industry data for the purpose of developing a predictive algorithm that can detect people displaying harmful betting patterns. The project will be managed by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.
The Federal Government also renewed its commitment to Gambling Research Australia, a separate initiative, on 1 July 2017.
Timeline for Implementation
Following the consideration of submissions, it is likely the Ministers will consider the preferred option for each measure under the national framework at a meeting to take place in September 2017.
|MEASURE||OPTION 1||OPTION 2||OPTION 3||OPTION 4|
|1||National self-exclusion register||No changes to current regulatory regime||A standardised approach for providing self-exclusion options across all jurisdictions||Establishment of a national self-exclusion register||N/A|
|2||Voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme||No changes to current regulatory regime||A standardised approach for providing a voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme||A voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme offered through a centralised system||N/A|
|3||Prohibition of lines of credit offered by wagering providers||No changes to current regulatory regime||A ban on lines of credit, with an exemption for on-course bookmakers; transitional arrangements||A ban on lines of credit, with exemptions for VIP and professional punters and on course bookmakers; transitional arrangements||A ban on lines of credit for all customers; transitional arrangements|
|4||Harmonised regime for offering inducements to participate in gambling activities||No changes to current regulatory regime||Ban on sign-up offers; a revised definition of inducements; requirement to opt-in to receive inducement offers||Prohibition on offering all inducements||N/A|
|5||Requirement to provide activity statements||No changes to current regulatory regime||A standardised approach to providing activity statements to customers||Standardised activity statements from a centralised system||N/A|
|6||Consistent responsible gambling messaging and counselling services||No changes to current regulatory regime||Consistent generic messaging||Consistent generic messaging and dynamic messaging (specific to a customer’s gambling activity)||N/A|
|7||Staff training||No changes to current regulatory regime||Prescribed learning objectives||Mandatory approved program||N/A|
|8||Reducing the 90 day verification period||No changes to current regulatory regime||Reduction to a 21 day timeframe||Reduction to a 14 day to 72 hour timeframe||Mandatory verification prior to any wagering activity|
|9||Prohibition of links between online wagering operators and payday lenders||No changes to current regulatory regime||No advertising, referral or provider of customer information to SACC providers||A harmonised approach to prohibition including prohibition on payday lenders to loan money for online wagering purposes||N/A|
1. “A National Consumer Protection Framework for Australian Online Licensed Wagering Operators: Proposed Changes”
2. “Australia – Release of Report on Illegal Offshore Wagering – Another Missed Opportunity for Reform of Australia’s Prohibitions on Online Gambling?”2.
3. Click here for the full text of the RIS.
4. It is proposed that measures 3 and 9 listed in the Schedule to this Focus Paper will be implemented by the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 currently before the Senate.
5. The RIS includes “telephone betting” in the definition of online gambling.
6. The effect of the Government’s media reform package on wagering advertising is addressed in our Focus Paper:The Odds are in Favour of Prohibiting Gambling Advertisements During Live Sports Broadcasts.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
© ADDISONS. No part of this document may in any form or by any means be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted without prior written consent. This document is for general information only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.