Federal legislation to close loopholes in the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) and protect venues from online in-play betting has passed the first step in parliament.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced to the House of Representatives last Thursday and passed through to the Senate.
The Amendment is intended to stop Australians betting online during sports matches, which is illegal under the IGA.
Multi-national betting agencies such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Bet365 had introduced “click to call” technology to circumvent the legislation, allowing patrons to bet during events using their software as it featured a function that legally satisfied the ‘call’ requirement by using VOIP (voice of internet protocol) in the background.
If passed, the Bill will threaten fines in the region of $1.35 million per day for individuals, and $6.75 million for companies.
Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge announced that the reforms were the start of plans to regulate online gambling, and told The Australian that Government wanted to ensure the “original intent of the law is being upheld”.
A national consumer protection system will be introduced, regulating end credit betting, and establishing a nationwide self-exclusion program.
There has been determined lobbying from both sides of the debate, with the country’s major tote bookmakers Tabcorp and Tatts leading the charge to tighten the conditions. Passing of the Bill would be of great benefit to the gaming company giants and their army of outlets and venue instalments, given the IGA currently only allows in-play betting in venues or over the phone.
After the passing of the Bill in the House, the Senate has referred it to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry.
The Committee will report on findings by 30 November; submissions close 21 November, 2016.