As is the case with many countries, Australia has launched a crackdown on online and live gambling to try and protect its citizens from becoming addicted to the activity. Limits are being put in place on how much one can gamble and advertising is becoming much more controlled, with companies being fined for any breaches in the new regulations. Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) has been trying to clean up the industry as well, but the state is finding that gambling operators have gotten very good at dancing and sidestepping regulations.
NSW has laws in place that are meant to prevent online gambling operators from inducing or enticing consumers to sign up. Since last July, no free bet sign offers have been allowed on anything but racing websites. Online operators have been found to be skirting the law by using other websites to attract new customers.
The result is NSW cracking down even further and, on average, is now prosecuting two cases each month. A number of companies have already been fined for breaches, including bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power’s Sportsbet, PointsBet and Tabcorp. Since last June, around US$92,000 in fines have been issued to the violators; however, this is pennies to the companies. Across just those five companies there would be an average of $18,400 in fines—they make more than that in less than a month.
But, some say that this still isn’t enough and call for the licensing to be revoked for those companies that continue to dance around the laws. An associate professor with Monash University, Charles Livingston, says the fines are nothing more than a “slap on the wrist.” The gambling operators even recognize that the fines are not important, that they’re simply a cost of doing business and are worth it based on the reward.
This alleged nonchalant attitude toward the fines—and the law—is causing NSW to take notice and fines could increase soon. Liquor and Gaming NSW has said that fines could increase to as much as $38,000 per incident, which is ten times higher than before. A spokesperson from the agency told The Sydney Morning Herald, “We recently put all wagering operators on notice that responsible gambling conduct needs to improve.”
Livingston adds, “[The NT is a] very low taxing and, in my opinion, poorly regulated jurisdiction. The best solution would be for the Australian government to regulate online gambling and impose uniform regulation across all operators. Regulating a 21st-century business using 19th-century jurisdictional and regulatory principles is hard to justify, especially when egregious breaches are commonplace.”
Because an increasing amount of attention is being given to gambling on the world stage, with stricter rules being implemented all the time, Livingston’s solution is more than likely closer than anyone thinks.