Reforms to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) to combat illegal online gambling were passed by the Australian Parliament on 9 August 2017. They are expected to come into effect in September 2017.
The reforms give the ACMA expanded responsibilities and new powers to enforce prohibitions on providing or advertising illegal interactive gambling services.
Enforcing the prohibitions under a newly created civil penalty regime, which allows the ACMA to issue formal warnings and infringement notices, and apply to the Federal Court for civil penalty orders or injunctions.
Notifying relevant international regulators if an operator in their jurisdiction is in breach of Australian law.
Referring directors/principals of offending operators to border protection agencies for inclusion on the travel Movement Alert List, which may disrupt any travel to Australia.
Publishing a Register of Australian-licensed interactive wagering service providers.
The ACMA will also have a role in raising awareness of Australian gambling laws to help minimise the supply and use of illegal interactive gambling services.
The ministerial release is available here.
The reforms to the IGA are one element of the government’s response to the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering led by the Hon Barry O’Farrell.
The newly amended IGA specifies both criminal and civil penalties for providing or advertising the following services to customers in Australia:
prohibited interactive gambling services—such as online casinos, online slot machines and online wagering services that accept ‘in-play’ betting on sports events
unlicensed regulated interactive gambling services—such as online wagering services provided without a license issued by an Australian state or territory.
It also prohibits certain regulated interactive wagering services from providing or facilitating the provision of credit to customers in Australia. These ‘credit-related’ prohibitions will come into force six months after the other changes.
Register of Australian-licensed interactive wagering service providers
The register will list interactive wagering services that are licensed in Australia. It will help raise awareness of those services that are legally able to operate in Australia to help Australians who choose to gamble to avoid using an illegal offshore service.
Some offshore gambling sites deliberately target Australians by using Australian imagery and colloquialisms. Australians who use these sites are exposing themselves to risk, as there is very limited legal recourse if they run into any difficulties.
On-course bookmakers are included on the register where their licence authorises them to provide interactive wagering services.