Australia Shifts into High Gear Against Online GamblingPublished November 10, 2016 by Ivan P
The future of online gambling is unclear in the land down under, with the apparent shutdown of the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority and the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 that could have a huge impact on iGaming in the country.
Grim news from the land down under, as the newly introduced Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 intends to make some far-reaching changes in the country's 2001 Interactive Gambling Act; this could spell dire news for both online gamblers and gambling operators in the country.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will be given extended powers to enforce existing laws. The bill will also make a clearer distinction between illegal gambling services and those who meet certain conditions and are allowed to operate. The focus is on discouraging illegal offshore wagering providers, who allegedly prey on vulnerable gamblers. ACMA will also have the prerogative of informing international regulators about the prohibited gambling services.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill is expected to generate mixed reaction from Australian players. They already have to deal with one of the most restrictive legislations when it comes to live betting. Local bookmakers allow international customers to enjoy the perks of in-play wagering, while preventing citizens from doing the same. This also discouraged some Australian-facing bookmakers from offering live streaming services, since most of their customers would not benefit from using them.
Some companies found loopholes and ways around existing laws, but they are going to be closed by the new bill. The enforcement tools suggested by the government will have a deterring effect on them and will range from formal warnings and infringement notices to injunctions and civil penalties. Players are mostly concerned about the changes applying to telephone betting services. If the bill passes, dealings with customers will need to be wholly by way of spoken conversations.
Norfolk Island Gaming Authority
In other news, the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority is on the verge of being shut down by the Australian Government. The regulatory body which has issued a number of Australian operating licenses to many online gambling sites, including the UK giant Ladbrokes, is facing serious allegations of misconduct and corruption.
The Norfolk Island Gaming Authority downfall started last year, when the agency issued an operating license to BetHQ, the company with close ties to the biggest illegal bookmaker Citibet. When all relevant details were revealed, the Australian government immediately ordered the Authority to stop issuing licenses pending an independent review.
The review was conducted by an independent auditing company Centium. Their findings were somewhat shocking, as the report concluded that the authority was "beyond redemption." Auditors discovered the organization was grossly understaffed and lacking even basic mechanisms to fulfill its role as a regulator. The Centium's report stated it was evident the Authority was primarily concerned about raising profit, neglecting their duties as a regulatory body, thus suggesting for it to stop existing in its current form.
The Norfolk Island Gaming Authority Done
After receiving the Centium's report, the government had no other recourse but to start the procedure of dismantling the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority. Fiona Nash, the Local Government and Territories Minister, explained that the report made it abundantly clear the Authority could no longer continue in its current role.
She emphasized the need for strict regulations to protect all the customers as well as the integrity of the sports in the country.
With this decision in place, all operators regulated by the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority will have until March 31 to apply for and receive a license from a different, legitimate regulator. Some companies, like BetHQ, will probably be weeded out in the process, as they are unlikely to find another authority willing to grant them an operating license.