Welcome to the December 2019 edition of Addisons Gambling Law & Regulation Newsletter.
This newsletter contains Focus Papers published by Addisons in 2019 concerning various issues relating to gambling regulation in Australia and recent developments that are likely to have an impact on the gambling sector during 2020.
The papers cover the following key developments:
1. Further steps relating to the implementation of the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) announced on 16 December 2018 and referred to in our December 2018 Newsletter. A number of measures announced in the NCPF have been implemented in 2019, with the principal measure being the introduction of consistent legislative measures across Australia relating to restrictions on inducements in wagering advertising. Further details are in our Focus Paper entitled “Restrictions on Gambling Advertising – Latest Measures Introduced under the National Consumer Protection Framework”.
Other measures which have been implemented during 2019 include the introduction of ISP blocking measures (see below) and the passage of legislation in the Federal Parliament relating to the establishment of a National Self-Exclusion Register.
Among the measures announced in the NCPF to address harm minimisation concerns arising from participation in online wagering was a prohibition on the provision of credit for betting purposes. Since then, various banks have introduced procedures to restrict the use of credit cards issued by those banks for gambling purposes. Last week, the Australian Bankers Association (ABA), released a consultation paper inviting submissions relating to the use of credit cards in gambling transactions and whether restrictions should be placed on their use. A copy of the consultation paper is available here.
2. While Australia has been taking formal steps to implement the NCPF (which itself reflected recommendations made in the Review of Interactive Wagering in the O’Farrell Review), New Zealand has also reviewed recently its policy relating to interactive gambling and particularly the steps that should be taken to ensure appropriate returns are made by offshore wagering operators. This has focused on the use of New Zealand race fields information and sporting fixture information, as well as the imposition of a Point of Consumption Tax (POC) relating to bets taken from persons who are present in New Zealand. A copy of our Focus Paper entitled “New Zealand – Development in Online Gambling Regulation”, published in July, concerns the first stage of the legislative reforms. A second Bill has just been released (available here).
3. There have been a considerable number of reviews which have considered the effectiveness of enforcement of prohibitions contained in the Interactive Gambling Act 2001(Cth) (IGA). These reviews have been covered in a number of our previous Focus Papers.
Last month, the Australian Communications an Media Authority (ACMA) announced that it had reached agreement with Communications Alliance (the industry body relating to the Internet sector) and the licensed wagering sector on a regime that would allow directions to be issued by the ACMA to Australian ISPs to block access to offshore gambling sites. Further details are in our Focus Paper entitled “Australia: ISP Blocking of Illegal Offshore Gambling Websites”.
4. While more restrictive measures targeting online gambling have been put in place in Australia and New Zealand, there continues to be substantial growth in the online gambling market in Asia. A number of operators have approached us concerning the location of their operations in various countries. In some cases, consideration has been given to Australia being a basis for those operations. For further information, see our Focus Paper entitled “Australia: Gateway to offer gambling services for Asia facing operations”.
5. Perhaps the most significant industry development in Australia in the gambling sector during 2019 related to the various allegations made involving Crown Casino, particularly with respect to its junket arrangements. This publicity occurred on, or around, the investment by Melco Entertainment in Crown Resorts and the acquisition of a material shareholding.
These issues are the subject of a formal inquiry to be chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Bergin, commissioned by the New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) which is to hold its first hearing on 21 January 2020. As one of the matters being considered at that inquiry relates to the manner in which casinos should be regulated in New South Wales as a matter of best practice, it is quite possible that this inquiry will have longstanding implications for the regulation of the gambling sector in Australia and internationally.
It is probable that the inquiry will have regard to the decision of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, involving Wynn Resorts. For further information about this decision, and its implications for Australia (which are likely to be relevant to the issues being considered in the Bergin inquiry) please see our Focus Paper entitled “Massachusetts’ Wynn Decision – Analysis from an Australian perspective”.
6. Finally, the scope of the enforcement provisions in the IGA was considered by Australian Courts for the first time earlier this year. In an application brought by Lottoland against the ACMA, the NSW Supreme Court ruled that Lottoland’s product offering fell within the scope of the “excluded wagering services” exemption in the IGA. This case contains discussion regarding the distinction between a “bet” and a “game”. For further details, see our Focus Paper entitled “Australia – Online Gambling What is a Bet? Decision in Lottoland v ACMA”.
There have also been a number of global and local industry meetings and conferences in which members of the Addisons Media and Gaming Team have been involved. This included the attendance at G2E by Jamie Nettleton in his capacity as President of the International Masters of Gaming Law, (IMGL), as well as the IMGL 2019 Conference in Munich. Sam Gauci attended recently the SiGMA conference in Malta.
We refer you to the Addisons Gambling Law Showcase page on LinkedIn which can be viewed here. We hope you enjoy this December 2019 edition of our Gambling Law & Regulation Newsletter. If you have any queries relating to the issues discussed in this Newsletter or you wish to discuss any of these matters, please do not hesitate to contact any member of Addisons Gambling Team.
With best wishes for the holiday season and 2020!
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