Media Release: Consumer protections and tougher laws to combat illegal offshore wagering

28 April 2016

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

Stronger consumer protections are the centrepiece of the Australian Government's response to the O'Farrell Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering.

These will include the establishment of a national self-exclusion register, a voluntary pre-commitment scheme, better information for individuals about their gambling spend and a ban on online wagering companies offering lines of credit.

The O'Farrell Review was commissioned last September and the Review and Government response are being released today. The Government has accepted 18 of the 19 recommendations in full or in principle.

The Review estimates that between $64 million and $400 million is gambled with illegal offshore providers, resulting in lost revenue, weaker consumer protection and heightened sports integrity concerns.

The Government is committed to taking tougher action against illegal offshore wagering providers and its multifaceted approach will include:

  • Strengthening the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) and empowering the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with new civil penalties, including against agents and affiliates who facilitate gambling with illegal offshore sites;
  • Disrupting travel to Australia by directors or principals of illegal providers who fail to adhere to the ACMA's rulings and consulting with stakeholders on the practicality of other disruption measures to curb illegal offshore operators, including voluntary ISP and payment blocking; and
  • Working with the state and territory governments, industry stakeholders and law enforcement agencies to establish a national framework of agreed minimum standards to empower individual gamblers to ensure problem gambling is minimised. The Government aims to agree on a framework model within 12 months

The Government does not intend to further expand the online betting market in Australia by legalising online in-play betting.

The Government considers 'click-to-call' in-play betting services are breaching the provisions and intent of the Interactive Gambling Act. The Government will therefore introduce legislation to clarify the Act as soon as possible.

Minister Tudge said: "Many Australians love to gamble, but we want to make sure there are sensible protections in place. The online environment has the potential for people to get themselves into serious trouble.

"We expect online wagering providers to meet community expectations. The tougher laws will seriously disrupt the illegal offshore providers from acting unscrupulously or targeting vulnerable Australians."

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 we will also create name and shame lists to be published online which will make it clearer to consumers the operators who are providing illegal services," Minister Fifield said.

The Government thanks Mr O'Farrell for his work in conducting this Review.

The O'Farrell Review and the Government's response can be found at:
www.dss.gov.au/communities-and-vulnerable-people/programmes-services/gambling