Victoria first Aussie state to intro new online betting safeguards

The Australian state of Victoria will be the first to introduce the country’s new online gambling consumer protection rules.

Two years ago, Australia’s federal government approved its new National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF), a set of 10 uniform standards that restricts online betting operators from offering customers sign-up incentives or lines of credit, creates a national self-exclusion register and allows customers to opt out of receiving promotional come-ons and to set deposit and wagering limits, among other rules.

The NCPF was formally ratified last November when the state of Queensland finally signed on, kicking off an 18-month window in which the new framework was to be unrolled on a national basis. Local media has now confirmed that Victoria — the nation’s second-most populous state — will be the first to implement the new code of conduct, starting this Sunday.

Victorian Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said the NCPF would empower gamblers to “make better choices” because it “gives them practical steps to better manage their gambling.” Kairouz heralded her state being first into the pool, and encouraged Australia’s other states and territories to “follow our lead.”

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has yet to set a timeline for implementing the NCPF. A spokesman for Liquor & Gaming NSW said the state government was “considering options for introducing the [NCPF] measures through legislation,” adding that the state already boasts the nation’s harshest rules restricting gambling inducements.

Stephen Conroy, CEO of Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), the online betting industry’s trade association, congratulated Victoria on taking the NCPF plunge and said RWA members were “amongst the biggest supporters of stronger protections for online wagering consumers.”

Elsewhere, the government in Western Australia (WA) introduced legislation last week that aims to advance the long-planned but equally long-stalled plans to privatize the WA TAB betting service.

Under the terms of the TAB (Disposal) Bill 2019 – which was crafted following a lengthy consultation with stakeholders, including the RWA – 65% of the sale proceeds would go toward building a new women’s hospital in Perth, while the rest would be set aside for a dedicated infrastructure fund to support the state’s perpetually beleaguered racing industry.

It’s been over three years since the WA government first mulled a sale of its TAB – the country’s last state-run betting operation – but these efforts took on new urgency last October when the state treasurer warned that the TAB’s value was shrinking by the day as its customers flocked to the new crop of online betting operators.