From Sunday 26 May 2019, Victoria’s lawmakers will be implementing new consumer protection regulations that are aimed at reducing the effects of online gaming, particularly wagering on sports.
The New Gambling Measures
The new rules are designed to limit marketing opportunities for online gambling operators and affiliates. They will greatly affect the way in which affiliates will promote their products to their potential customers in the state of Victoria.
Under the new rules, both the online gaming operators and the affiliates in Victoria must act in accordance with the requirements for limits on betting account deposits, the direct marketing restrictions as well as a ban on incentives that encourage consumers to continue betting. This means that the affiliates will be banned from offering vouchers, credit or other rewards to account holders as incentives to encourage the holder’s family and friends to participate in gambling by opening a betting account.
Operators will also be forbidden to provide complementary or free bets on the condition that the gamblers can only use the winnings to continue betting rather than being given the option to withdraw the funds.
Additionally, the consumers must proactively choose to participate in direct marketing and must be given simple and easy-to-use tools to set limits on the amount of money that can be deposited. In addition, the providers should make closing the accounts easy for the customers in case the customers want to opt out.
Victoria is the First State in Australia to Implement the New Rules
Victoria is the first state in the country to sign up to the national framework. Marlene Kairouz, the state’s minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, is confident that the new rules will make Victoria’s gambling sector the best regulated in the entire country.
“These Australian-first changes are about tightening the rules for online betting operators and empowering consumers to make better choices – and I encourage other states and territories to follow our lead.” She said.
She added that Victoria was the first state to implement the new rules because it offers greater protection to online gamblers and gives them practical steps that help them manage their gambling better.
Shane Lucas, the chief executive of the Victorian Responsible Gaming Foundation also welcomed the changes by saying that the offer of easily accessible tools and information to manage and monitor gambling to individuals is an important step towards reducing and preventing the harmful effects of gambling.
Implementation of the Rules by the Rest of the Country
The National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering has been designed to give “nationally consistent protections for consumers of Australian interactive wagering services”. The new rules are expected to be implemented by the rest of the country by May 2020.
The new rules were introduced by the federal government following the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering after concerns about the prevalence of problem gambling among online gamblers grew. The review claimed that the rate of online problem gambling is 3 times higher than the other types of gambling.
Speaking in December 2018, the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, said that the measures are designed to reduce the harm of online gambling on the individuals as well as their families caused by excessive or at-risk online gambling. He added that the National Framework is set to apply to about 2.5 million active online gambling accounts and about a million Australians.
In spite of any possible shortcomings, once implemented throughout the country, the new measures will represent a significant development in the context of online gambling in Australia.
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