Update on Gambling Reform in Australia

On 9 December 2011, the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform released its second report on its inquiry into interactive and online gambling and gambling advertising, and the Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011.

The Committee, chaired by the Independent MP Mr Andrew Wilkie, investigated all forms of international and domestic online gambling and the methods by which it is advertised.  During the course of the inquiry, the Committee heard from a wide range of stakeholders.  The Committee was particularly concerned about the ‘gamblification’ of sport, especially for children and young men; and the increase in individuals with sports betting problems using legal Australian websites.

In total, the report makes 20 recommendations, including that the Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011 not be passed.  The report also recommends:

  • the establishment of an independent national research institute on gambling;
  • the development of an education campaign to provide information to the public about current regulation and the risks of harm associated with online gambling;
  • the development of a national regulatory approach to replace inconsistent and ambiguous legislation that is different between jurisdictions;
  • tighter control on the practice of credit betting and greater transparency around the practice of third party commissions paid by betting agencies;
  • a mandatory national code of conduct for advertising; and
  • the prohibition of gambling advertising during times when children are likely to be watching.

The Committee took particular note of the effectiveness of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) in relation to online gambling and advertising, which it agreed should be retained and improved, however the Committee did not agree on how to address the Act’s inability to limit or restrict Australians’ access to foreign gambling websites.  The IGA is currently the subject of a Government review, which began in May 2011.

Also in May 2011, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs the Hon. Jenny Macklin MP; along with Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy; and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Assistant Treasurer the Hon. Bill Shorten; announced that the Government was concerned about the promotion of live odds during sports coverage.  The Ministers agreed to work with the sporting and betting industries to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during sports coverage through amendments to existing industry codes.  Should these changes not be made by June 2012, the Government will consider legislating.  The Ministers’ joint press release is available here.

The Committee’s full report, including details of all 20 recommendations, is available for download here.

The Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform’s first report, following its inquiry into the design and implementation of a mandatory pre-commitment system for electronic gaming machines was released in May 2011.  This report, to which the Government has not yet responded, also called for a national independent research institute on gambling.  The report is available for download here.

For more information, contact your Hawker Britton consultant.