Australian Wagering Council (AWC) members adhere to agreed key industry policy positions on a broad range of issues that are strategically important to the wagering and sportsbetting industry.
A Different Regulatory Framework is Required for the Online Environment
The online wagering and sports betting industry is a global industry and therefore requires a different regulatory framework than traditional land-based gambling.
Prohibition Doesn’t Work on the Internet
Prohibition doesn’t work – the global nature of the internet means that if an online gambling service or product is prohibited or becomes unviable in Australia, Australians are still able to and will access these services or products through unregulated overseas websites which have little or no consumer protection or harm minimisation measures. Australian cannot afford to act in isolation to the rest of the world.
Protecting the Integrity of Australian Racing and Sport
AWC members have a zero tolerance policy on corruption in racing and sport and have a long-standing commitment to ensuring their integrity obligations are fulfilled by:
- conducting regular audits of their customer databases to determine if prohibited participants have placed bets;
- developing industry standards for information exchange with sports, governments and law enforcement agencies about unusual bets and suspicious betting patterns;
- paying product fees to respective sporting organisations;
- developing national integrity agreements with sports controlling bodies to facilitate information sharing about suspicious betting activities and trends and other integrity requirements as specified by that sporting body; and
- entering into similar information sharing agreements in the case of a transgression of rules or suspicious behaviour with racing bodies around Australia.
Recent positive policy initiatives announced by Federal Government have been strongly supported by the AWC members including:
- the establishment of the National Integrity of Sport Unit (NISU) as a platform for collaboration underpinned by legislation, regulation, codes of conduct and industry standards; and
- the development of nationally consistently match fixing laws with consistency of criminal sanctions across jurisdictions.
National Standards for Harm Minimisation and Consumer Protection
The AWC supports the development of national standards for harm minimisation and consumer protection (based on evidence-based research) that covers responsible gambling, advertising, licensing requirements and probity standards across all jurisdictions.
In developing these national standard the AWC maintains that any new measures must be applied to all forms of wagering in Australia and should acknowledge the benefits of account-based betting from an integrity-management and problem gambling perspective.
These standards should be based on a number of fundamental principles to ensure their effectiveness in protecting Australians and their gambling activities. They should:
- Demonstrate through robust research measures to be effective in improving harm minimisation and consumer protection;
- Not create an overly burdensome regulatory regime which will be detrimental to the competitiveness of licensed domestic wagering providers and only serve to drive even more Australians to gamble with illegal unregulated foreign offshore operators and SP bookmakers who do not comply with Australian standards and have little or no consumer protection; and
- Be reasonably achievable from an operational and technical perspective so that implementing any change should not be too expensive or burdensome as it will have a detrimental ability for licensed Australian bookmakers to compete.
The AWC believes that the most effective way to promote responsible gambling online is to have a regulated industry within Australia which has high levels of consumer protection and sophisticated problem gambling harm minimisation measures in place.
AWC members have in place the following harm minimisation measures:
- Voluntary pre-commitment;
- Self-exclusion for customers;
- Contact details for counselling services displayed on websites;
- The “Gamblers Anonymous Self-Assessment 20 Questions Test” on websites;
- Responsible Gambling Mission Statements; and
- Mandatory responsible gambling training for all customer-facing staff.
The AWC supports the development of national standards for harm minimisation and consumer protection that cover responsible gambling, advertising, licensing requirements, and probity standards based on evidence-based research.
In developing these national standards for harm minimisation and consumer protection, the AWC maintains that any new measures must be applied to all forms of wagering in Australia and should acknowledge the benefits of account- based betting from an integrity-management and problem gambling perspective.
The incidence of problem gambling is significantly lower in online wagering in comparison to land-based gaming (poker machines, casinos) with the Productivity Commission Report on Gambling (2010) estimating that 75-80 per cent of problem gambling is directly related to the use of poker machines.
For more information on AWC’s commitment to responsible gambling click here.
Industry Self-Regulation of Advertising Activities
The AWC is committed to ensuring that all forms of advertising by its members is undertaken in a socially responsible manner and accords with the promotion of responsible gambling and the need to protect the integrity of sport.
AWC members adopted an industry-led Statement of Intent in January 2013 to self-regulate the promotion of live odds during sporting broadcasts in line with the agreed COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform’s Principles of Reform.
The AWC supported the government’s measures (announced on 26 May 2013) in the area of gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts with members immediately aligning their advertising accordingly.
In adopting these reforms, the AWC emphasized that the right to advertise is an important distinguishing legal right granted only to those wagering and sportsbetting organisations who have agreed to meet Australian standards and are subject to the strict Australian regulatory environment.
Product Fees – Racing/Sport
AWC members acknowledge that the payment of product fees for racing and sport is an accepted tradition in Australia, but believe that such payments can only be fair if these are made on a gross profits basis.
Imposing higher product fees through a levy on turnover (as opposed to gross profit) will result in less money being paid to major sporting bodies by wagering companies, not more.
Higher product fees could make Australian-based wagering companies uncompetitive in relation to betting on a sport/football code, while unregulated overseas websites which never have and never will pay product fees will continue to offer these services to Australian consumers.
The greater the level of wagering by Australians through unregulated overseas websites, the greater the risk to the integrity of sport.
More Australians betting through unregulated overseas websites risks increasing the level of problem gambling because such sites have little regard for protecting Australian consumers.
Higher product fees will mean less dollars for sponsorship of sport from wagering companies.
The Productivity Commission has recommended that product fees be imposed on a gross revenue basis, not turnover.
AWC members advocate a national approach to racing and sports product fees, as long as they are on a gross profits basis.
The IGA’s existing provisions with respect to in-play betting (i.e. wagering during an event on the final result or a well-defined contingency, but not including ‘microbetting’) are confusing to consumers, inconsistent in their coverage, obsolete given technological changes, and result in substantial harm to consumers and Australian sports.
It is important that the integrity of Australian sport be protected.
Permitting online inplay betting will ensure that Australian operators compete on a level playing field with more than 2300 offshore illegal operators who already offer this product to Australian customers. The identity verification and bet tracking ability of licensed Australian online operators together with the reporting requirements of any suspicious betting patterns under the negotiated integrity agreements will further protect the integrity of wagering and sport in Australia from match-fixing and other fraudulent activities.
The IGA should be amended to clarify that in-play wagering on sporting events will continue to be permitted, and on a platform-neutral basis, but restricted to the circumstances in which bet types are authorised by the relevant state/territory regulator and the relevant national sports controlling body. Micro-betting, however, should be prohibited.
Delayed Settlement Facilities
Any proposal to ban the provision of delayed settlement facilities (DSF) by Australian companies is unwarranted and will cause consumers to turn towards unregulated foreign websites, unlicensed loan sharks or illegal SP bookmakers, none of which have any regard for consumer protection.
Rules around the provision of DSF (sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘credit betting’), where certain customers are able to place bets and reconcile their account at a later date, have been substantially tightened as a condition of license for those operators licensed in the Northern Territory (effective from 1 November 2015). This will ensure all wagering providers licensed in Australia consistently adopt a strengthened approach focused on robust consumer protection standards.