Volume: 16 Issue: 8
The Australian Senate passed on 9 August 2017 the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (‘Bill’), which was first published in November 2016. The Bill now awaits signature by the Governor-General in order to become law, and its implementation - likely in September 2017 - will replace Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
The Senate examined the Bill again in August after Australia’s House of Representatives passed a version of the Bill back to the Senate with one amendment, in connection with the Bill’s prohibition on credit betting, in June this year. The Senate has now accepted the House’s amendment.
The Bill resulted from recommendations made in the 2015 Review of the Impact of Illegal Offshore Wagering led by Australian politician the Hon Barry O’Farrell and contains a number of measures to clarify the country’s law in respect of online gambling. Its provisions include requiring an overseas operator offering into Australia to hold an appropriate Australian licence, and confirmation of the illegality of online poker and of the illegality of ‘click to call’ in-play betting. Under the Bill, operators will also be unable to offer lines of credit to consumers in Australia, including through third parties.
The Bill further contains provisions relating to the role of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (‘the ACMA’); the ACMA will inter alia create a register of legal online gambling services on its website and will advise regulators in other jurisdictions in regards to prohibited and unlicensed regulated gambling services in Australia.
Separately, a Motion in the Australian Senate originally moved by Senators David Leyonhjelm and Cory Bernadi has led to the Senate convening an Inquiry into online poker in Australia, on which a public hearing took place on 1 August. The Inquiry seeks to analyse Australian participation in online poker, the associated harms and benefits, and to assess whether the regulatory environment - including the Bill - represents the right approach to such harms and benefits. The Committee carrying out the Inquiry is due to report back on 14 September 2017, seemingly too late to influence the content of the Bill.