New Australian Gambling Bill Introduced

Click to call betting is legally permitted in Australia under existing gambling laws. Australian federal government officials recently became aware that multiple live betting services were circumventing online gambling restrictions by simulating a phone call and providing live betting options through the click to call exception. Once aware of the situation, Mitch Fifield, Australia’s communications minister, became concerned about the affect this has on problem gamblers and became motivated to introduce the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016.

The human services minister, Alan Tudge shares Fifield’s concern, stating that people are more likely to get into trouble with gambling when participating online. Statistically, .9% of all gamblers have a gambling problem as opposed to 2.7% of all interactive gamblers develop problem gambling issues. The legislation is an effort to prevent offshore gambling sites from targeting Australian players who are vulnerable to gambling issues. The bill includes stricter laws intended to stifle offshore gambling sites that act unscrupulous or questionable in their practices, particularly with customer acquisition.

If the Interact Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 passes, the Australian government will be able to take tougher action when presented with any type of illegal offshore wagering situation. The bill clarifies which gambling services are legal and which are illegal. Legal online gambling in Australia must meet specific conditions in order to be deemed legitimate. In addition to stricter laws concerning online gambling, the measure will also give ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) the authority to govern in this situation by issuing warnings, civil penalties, injunctions and infringement notices.

Additionally, ACMA will have the authority to share information about gambling services that they have prohibited with other international regulators. The bill’s supporters are hopeful that a collaborative effort internationally can squelch those online gambling sites that are not operating legally within the industry. The bill will require support from Labor and/or crossbench senators in order to pass the Senate. It is unclear at this time what type of support the bill has earned thus far.

While many will agree with the Australian government in their efforts to restrict online gambling for the sake of problem gamblers, others will see this intrusion of governmental influence for what it is. The feds are attempting to baby sit the masses. Perhaps the 97.3% of online gamblers who are not struggling with addiction would like to enjoy healthy, responsible adult gambling entertainment online without the government’s paws all over it. With this mentality, we’d have to say that all stores that sell alcohol are exploiting alcoholics, and all shops that sell cigarettes are enabling those individuals who are addicted to them.

Whatever happened to holding ourselves accountable for our own behavior? Lets try not blaming our habits and addictions on the entertainment industry and take responsibility for our own weaknesses and needs. If you have a gambling addiction, by all means, seek help and find a way to effectively apply restrictions to your daily life that support a healthy recovery. But don’t ask that the masses be punished in the process.