Commonwealth and state and territory gambling ministers recently met, for the third time, to establish a strong, consistent and best practice National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering.
Further work will continue with the aim of releasing a final National Framework by the end of 2017. This will enable the measures to be implemented in a staged approach during 2018.
The following gambling harm minimisation measures will be included in the National Framework:
- A national self-exclusion register will be established through a centralised system across all wagering operators. A person will be able to choose their exclusion period, ranging from three months to permanent exclusion. At the time of self-exclusion, a person will be provided information on gambling support services, financial services and counselling.
- A voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme will be implemented with nationally consistent features at the operator level. The scheme will prompt a person to set a limit during the sign-up process, with prompts to also be sent at regular intervals for existing account holders. Limits will be binding with a cooling-off period of seven days for limit increases.
- Inducements to open an account or refer a friend to open an account will be prohibited, while winnings from a bonus bet must be able to be withdrawn and not subject to turnover requirements. A person must opt-in to receive direct marketing material and it must be easily accessible to unsubscribe from receiving marketing material. Some states and territories expressed support for additional forms of inducements to be prohibited or restricted, and they reserve the right to pursue any measures through their own regulations and licensing arrangements.
- Player activity statements are to be implemented, which must be easily accessible at all times, clearly articulate the net win/loss for the specified period, and provide clear practical information. Extensive trialing and testing of this measure is already underway with the trials of the effectiveness of various features to be finalised in early 2018.
- Gambling messaging will be implemented with a nationally consistent set of standards based on evidence. The key features will include that gambling messaging is easily understood and accessible to a wide range of groups across Australia, designed in consideration of the jurisdiction where they are displayed, designed in collaboration with experts (harnessing new and existing research) and recognise that terminology of messaging is crucial to their effectiveness as a consumer protection measure. Extensive trialing and testing of this measure is already underway with the trials of the effectiveness of various features to be finalised in mid 2018.
- All staff involved in providing online wagering services, or with the capacity to influence the service, will be required to complete responsible service of gambling training and refresher training. New staff must undertake the online training within one month of commencing work, and staff dealing directly with customers must complete the training before they interact with any customers.
- The current customer verification period of 90 days will be reduced to a maximum 14-day timeframe. A person must have their identity verified within a maximum 14-day period to continue online wagering and any winnings are not able to be withdrawn prior to identity verification. A person found to be under 18 years of age or self-excluded must have their account closed immediately and the deposited funds returned.
- The process for a person to close an account must be simple and online wagering providers will be prohibited from providing any direct promotional or marketing material following the suspension or closure of an account.
Ban on credit being offered for betting
Ministers noted that two important measures under the National Framework, banning lines of credit being offered by online wagering providers and stopping the links between payday lenders and online wagering providers, have been prohibited through recent amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
These amendments will commence in February 2018 following a six-month transition period to allow industry and customers to adjust their business and betting practices.
Other wagering reforms
Ministers noted the work of the Wagering Working Group that is considering a common national approach on examining a point of consumption tax for online wagering. This Working Group will report back to the next Council on Federal Financial Relations meeting later in 2017.