The Australian Government Responds to the IGA Review

The Australian Government has finally issued its response to the review of the IGA (Interactive Gambling Act) of Barry O’Farrell, the previous NSW premier. The review by Barry O’Farrell was more focused on the illegal gambling operators that are located offshore, and also covered other issues such as credit betting and the protection of the consumer. Alan Tudge, the Minister of Human Services has vowed that the government is going to close the legal loophole that allows online bookmakers to provide players in Australia with online in play sports betting.

Although the IGA review was mainly supposed to focus on offshore betting, it did acknowledge the difficulty of this task. The review has estimated that the annual amount spent by Australians on these offshore sites is between 64 to 400 million Australian Dollars.  The good news is that the government’s response on the review has dealt with the protection of the consumer as a priority. This is why it includes the establishment of a self exclusion register, on a national scale and aims to provide the punters with reports on their gambling activity so they can track it, and stop it if needed, whether manually, or through self exclusion procedures.

In addition, the Aussie federal government stated that it shall prohibit any credit betting activity. Credit betting is where the bookmakers provide the online punters with a line of credits that they can use to place more and more bets. Due to the fact that the bookmakers do not charge the players with any interest, this line of credit will not fall under the consumer credit laws of Australia, and it has catastrophic consequences for the punters.On the other hand, the measures that will be implemented by the government are not going to prohibit using credit card.

According to the IGA review, it was also shown that the government is aiming to strengthen the powers of the Communications and Media Authority of Australia. This move aims to give the authority the ability  to stop any unlicensed offshore providers from offering their online gambling services to the Australian punters. How will the government succeed to do that, it is still unclear, as no jurisdiction in the entire world has succeeded in this up to this date.

As for the elephant in the room, the advertisements extent, the government seems to be failing to seriously address this issue, which is the extent of broadcast ads that promote internet gambling. Although Alan Tudge stated that the review did not include advertisement, but this is not really the case. This is because 2 out of the 19 recommendations by the government were referring to the advertisements issue.