The state of Western Australia (WA) has imposed new measures to punish not only online lottery betting operators but also state residents who dare patronize such sites.
On Wednesday, the WA government introduced legislation to protect state-owned lottery monopoly Lotterywest by prohibiting sites like Lottoland from advertising their services. The measure is somewhat redundant, given that Australia’s federal government already approved a nationwide ban on so-called ‘synthetic’ lotteries that kicks in on January 1, 2019.
But the WA government’s plan goes further, including provisions that would hit lottery betting customers with personal fines of A$2,500 (US$1,800). The WA government has yet to explain exactly how authorities would detect an individual’s use of such sites, but does plan to give the state’s Gaming and Wagering Commission ‘sweeping’ new powers to police the market.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Legislative Assembly member Paul Papalia saying that the new tools would future-proof Lotterywest from unwanted competition by granting the gaming regulator “the power to act in the event of some other unforeseen disruptive betting process coming onto the market, they can just outlaw it immediately.”
Lottery betting sites offer customers the ability to wager on the outcome of lottery draws, including the outsized international lottery jackpots not available to local punters through state-sponsored lottery providers. Critics claim that these sites cannibalize official lottery sales, thereby depriving social causes of funding, a claim lottery betting operators categorically reject.
Lottoland Australia CEO Luke Brill told Radio Perth that his company was “not about to sort of break the law” but the company would “continue to look at how we can innovate and change our business model to ensure we’re fully compliant.” Brill issued similar comments following passage of the federal lottery betting ban in June.
WA’s new legislation would also prohibit domestic online sports betting operators who hold a license issued outside WA from setting up retail outlets in the state that remotely link to their wagering sites. Most Aussie online sportsbooks are licensed in the Northern Territory.
ONLINE IN-PLAY BETTING RETHINK?
Meanwhile, Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie is reportedly considering the findings of a sports integrity review that urged the government to rethink its ban on online in-play sports betting. In-play wagering is currently only permitted at Tabcorp Holdings’ retail betting outlets or over the telephone.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that McKenzie had privately expressed support for the review’s recommendation of scrapping the online in-play betting ban, on the grounds that it would bolster the appeal of Aussie-licensed betting sites and lessen the appeal of internationally licensed gambling sites that continue to serve the needs of Aussie punters.