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The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 is a bill that came about after the Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering in 2015, which recommended tightening up federal laws around gambling online. The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act had already sought to outlaw online gambling including poker, blackjack and roulette but this amendment bill aimed to close “loopholes” which allowed online gambling to continue.
“The bill amends the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to clarify the services to which the Act applies by recognising prohibited interactive gambling services and regulated interactive gambling services; prohibit a person providing regulated interactive gambling services to Australians unless the person holds a licence under the law of an Australian state and territory; introduce a civil penalty regime to be enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); prohibit ‘click to call’ in-play betting services; streamline complaints handling and investigation processes; establish a register of eligible regulated interactive gambling services to be published on the ACMA website; and enable the minister to determine by legislative instrument that a specific thing is, or is not, a sporting event for the purposes of the Act; Interactive Gambling Regulations 2001 to make consequential amendments; and Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 to enable the ACMA to disclose certain information to foreign regulators and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.”
This rule was first introduced and read on 10 Nov 2016 and was last updated on March 2017 ( at the time of writing).
It bans online poker and lives sports betting, Online cards, roulette, in-play betting outlawed under gambling reforms. As currently hundreds of illegal gambling services are easily accessible on the internet; and people are more likely to get into trouble online; as 2.7% of interactive gamblers are problem gamblers compared to 0.9% of all gamblers. So the tougher laws will seriously disrupt illegal offshore providers from acting unscrupulously or targeting vulnerable Australians.
Also as major bookmakers and betting agencies have used the loophole to offer ‘click to call’ phone features on their websites and apps; which vastly speeds up the betting process. The latest amendment closes that loophole, outlawing ‘click to call’ services.
The new bill will set out a series of illegal gambling services; and others that are permitted to operate if they meet certain exceptions.
It will also give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) power; to issue warnings, infringement notices, civil penalties and injunctions.
Acma will also be given the power to disclose details about prohibited gambling services to international regulators.
According to liberal democrats senator David Leyonhjelm “If you want to play poker, there are lots of opportunities in Australia, at casinos and tournaments. It’s not as if there isn’t a great deal of poker playing already, but they’re just stopping it online. The whole world is online now.”
“The original 2001 law was meant to stop online gambling of many kinds, but it didn’t, there was a loophole. There is quite an active online poker community in Australia. I don’t think it will succeed for those determined. If you have a virtual private network or offshore account, you will still play. It’s a stupid situation to be in,” he said.
The law also closes loopholes around live sports betting, or betting on in-play events once a sporting fixture has begun. Such betting has been cited as a possible factor in match or spot-fixing. In addition, online in-play betting has been outlawed for some time. However, a loophole allowed in-play bets to be made over the phone.
“This is because a conversation with the operator, during which the customer has to provide identification and betting information, slows the betting process and thereby reduces the scope for problem gambling, one of the objectives of the IGA,” outlined the amendment bill’s explanatory memorandum.
Leyonhjelm claimed that, far from addressing possible match-fixing, the changes could actually help it prosper.
“In the UK, there are licensed providers of in-play betting and the government taxes them. They generate hundreds of millions in revenue last year. In addition, they are also able to audit the betting; to link sports events being rigged and correlate that back to activity, to follow the money trail,” he said.
“The ban on in-play betting is meant to stop the corruption of sport. If that happens now; we may never know.” Leyonhjelm also said the ban would push people to less trustworthy and reputable overseas betting agencies.
It will promote the black market. There are ways to circumvent these prohibition approaches. People will gamble using foreign providers by various means. They will be in the hands of sometimes shady providers; and if they get ripped off, they will have no recourse this is what Leyonhjelm believes.
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