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Gambling ministers agree to stronger online gambling protections

Limits on inducements and ease of account closure were two new measures agreed, in-principle, by gambling ministers on Friday as they progressed a suite of consumer protection initiatives.

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Commonwealth, state and territory gambling ministers met in Melbourne for their third meeting to discuss reforms to online wagering, guided by the O’Farrell Review.

Nine measures were progressed with the aim that they be implemented throughout 2018.

Importantly, there was in-principle agreement for new limits on inducements to open an account or refer a friend to open an account.  They also agreed that winnings from a bonus bet be able to be withdrawn and not be subject to turnover requirements.

It was also agreed it should be easier for gamblers to close accounts with a simple process.

Other measures, which had been discussed at earlier meetings, were progressed. These include:

  • The introduction of a self-exclusion register to allow people to self-exclude from all online gambling sites and apps in a simple online registration process.  The aim is for the register to be fully operational by December 2018.
  • A voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme where consumers will be given the option to set and review their pre‑commitment regularly as well as being able to determine the time period for their limit.
  • Regular and accessible activity statements which will allow people to monitor their gambling spend.

Read more: Ministers Meeting on Illegal Offshore Wagering Reform

The reforms agreed by ministers today complement other steps already taken in the online gambling field including; the banning of gambling advertising from live sporting events before 8:30pm, the crackdown on illegal offshore gambling providers with the passage of the Interactive Gambling Act, and the prohibition of gambling companies offering lines of credit to their customers to continue betting.

The Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge who chairs the meeting, said that steady progress is being made.

“Many Australians enjoy a punt, but we want to ensure there are reasonable protections in place and that individuals can have greater control over their gambling expenditure,” Minister Tudge said.

“Online gambling is growing faster than any other form of gambling and the incidences of problem gambling is higher.  The gambling problems of the future will all come from the online space if we don’t put sensible protections in place now.

“Today, we agreed sensible limits on inducements so that people aren’t encouraged to spend more money when they may already be in trouble.

“A National Self Exclusion Register means punters can go onto one of their gambling apps and self-exclude from all gambling providers with one simple process.

“Along with the limits on advertising and the crackdown on the illegal offshore providers, these new changes will make a substantial difference to limiting the harm from excessive gambling.”

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