As part of government’s gambling crackdown in Australia recently Paul Fletcher, Federal Minister for Social Services in Australia, officially revealed that the Government is imposing stricter measures on the gambling sector to tackle problem gambling.
Australian gambling operators will now have only 14 days instead of 3 months on their disposal to verify their users’ identities. According to Minister Fletcher there are currently more than 240,000 people who are considered at risk of getting hooked on gambling or who are already suffering from significant harm due to compulsive online gambling habits. Therefore the Federal Government considered its obligation to unveil certain reforms in order to protect the most vulnerable members of society.
Report by Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
The announcement of the stricter regulatory regime follows a report, commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, which found that 25% of the bettors were under the legal age of 18 when placing their first sports bets. According to the report’s findings, about 70% of the bettors are already facing negative consequences of gambling-related harm or are at risk.
According to Pro Bono News, the executive director of Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tony Mohr, described the three-month limit as “essentially ineffective”, which was one of the main reasons for the rule change. Mr Mohr explained that the 3-month limit which gambling operators had until now to make user identity checks do not equal a 3-month self-exclusion. In addition, it was not able to guarantee that underage individuals or players using someone else’s credit cards would stay away from gambling over that period of time.
Tackle problem gambling
The problem with the 3-month limit for user identity checks is that players could lose a lot of money for such a long period of time, which makes it ineffective.
According to Mr Mohr, changes were necessary in the sector in order for the competent authorities to make sure that customers are provided with protection when it comes to problem gambling and gambling-related harm. Of course, the shorter user identity checks limits could not be considered a simple and magical solution for the complicated condition of the country’s gambling sector.
The thing is that the measure is not designed to prevent people from getting hooked on gambling before it happens, but it is still an important part of the Government’s gambling-related harm prevention program.
The Government is aware of the fact that the stricter measures under which the period given to gambling operators to execute the necessary checks of their users’ identities will be shortened from 90 to 14 days could bring some operational difficulties for companies, but something needs to be done as quickly as possible. As revealed by Minister Fletcher, the newly-announced reduction is to be reviewed by the Federal Government in 12 months, as legislators are intending to cut the ID checks limits even further, to 72 hours.
The legislative changes
The National Framework builds on other legislative changes the Liberal National Government has implemented, including stopping illegal offshore providers, restricting advertising, and prohibiting lines of credit for online wagering and links between payday lenders and online wagering operators.
The Government is encouraging all states and territories to progress their legislation to enable full implementation of the National Framework as soon as possible.
“We will closely monitor the impact of the National Framework, including the new rules for verifying online gambling customers,” Mr Fletcher said.“In 12 months, we will assess this measure with the intention to further reducing the verification period to 72 hours.”
Thus new national rules have commenced that reduce the customer verification period for new online wagering (betting) consumers from 90 days to a maximum of 14 days. This measure is one of 10 consumer protection measures contained in the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering which was announced in November 2018.
Customers may open an online betting account, deposit funds into the account and start betting without having their identification verified, but they cannot withdraw any winnings before this has occurred.
Changes to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007 (No.1) now mean customers must be verified within 14 days to continue using an online betting account. If the verification process finds that a person is under 18 years of age, the online betting provider must return all deposited funds and close the account immediately.
Foundation-funded research has found that sports betting participation has grown substantially in recent years and is emerging as a significant contributor to problem gambling, especially among younger adult males. The 14-day verification period will be reviewed after 12 months with a view to informing a commitment to further reducing the verification period to 72 hours. People needing help or support are encouraged to contact the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 or visitwww.gamblinghelponline.org.au