Welcome to the December 2015 Addisons’ Gambling Law & Regulation Newsletter.

There have been numerous developments in the gambling sector since our last Newsletter of June 2015. 

In this Newsletter, we cover in detail a variety of issues that we trust will be of interest to our readers. 

First, the laws of New South Wales relating to the promotion of wagering services have been amended recently to strengthen the restrictions on the manner in which wagering services may be advertised to customers.  New South Wales is Australia’s most populous State and compliance with these restrictions will no doubt require Australian licensed wagering operators to change – in some cases quite significantly – the manner in which they advertise and promote their services. 

You can read more in our article Welcome (back) to the Prohibition Era. The latest restrictions on the advertising of wagering services to Australians.

AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, initiated proceedings earlier this year against three Tabcorp entities for numerous alleged breaches of Australia’s anti money laundering and counter terrorism financing legislation.  AUSTRAC is seeking a penalty of $17 million against Tabcorp.  In light of these proceedings, Australian licensed wagering operators should be aware of their obligations under this legislation. 

We set out a summary of these obligations in our article Do you know your customer? An Australian online wagering operator’s guide to the requirements under Australian anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

There have been numerous reports about the proposal to apply Australian GST to online entertainment services provided by offshore businesses to Australians (for example television shows and movies watched online). 

We explore the possibility of the extension of these taxes to gambling services provided online from offshore operators to Australians in our article The “Netflix Tax” – Australian Government moves forward with proposals to extend GST to digital goods and services. What does this mean for the offshore online gambling sector?

Australia’s foreign bribery laws are currently the subject of an enquiry being conducted by the Senate.  Further, the anti-bribery laws in jurisdictions such as the US and the UK apply to entities which are located outside those jurisdictions (including Australian entities).

Australian gambling entities need to be familiar with the manner in which foreign anti-bribery laws may apply, particularly if they seek to conduct business outside Australia.

We provide an overview of their obligations under Australian anti-bribery laws in our article Foreign Bribery in Australia and Overseas: 5 Things You Need to Know.

Additionally, there have been numerous other legal developments relevant to the Australian gambling industry: 

  • The Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced in October 2015 that it would not be investigating complaints referred to it by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the regulator responsible for the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth) (IGA). The IGA prohibits the provision and promotion of “interactive gambling services”1 to Australians.  These complaints were in respect of various “click to call” services offered by some Australian licensed wagering operators.
  • Media reports in mid November 2015 indicated that Tabcorp and Tattersalls were set to proceed with an AU $9.4 billion merger.  Subsequent reports indicated that these discussions had ceased. However, it will be interesting to see whether these discussions resume in the new year and the regulatory issues that may emerge if this merger proceeds.
  • Appeals in the litigation proceedings brought by each of Tattersalls and Tabcorp against the State of Victoria were heard by the High Court of Australia in November 2015.  The judgments have been reserved.  We have written about these proceedings previously2 and will write about the High Court’s decisions when they are released.
  • The Federal Government has confirmed that it is now considering the report of Barry O’Farrell in connection with his review of the Illegal Offshore Wagering.3 We have written about this Review previously.4 Over 50 submissions were received in connection with the Review. It is expected that the Government’s response will be announced at the same time as the report is released, possibly as early as late January 2016.
  • In late 2015, Senator Nick Xenophon introduced a bill into Federal Parliament to amend the IGA so that it contains, among other things, restrictions on the offering of credit relating to betting services by wagering operators to their customers and financial transactions relating to offshore gambling services. This bill has been referred to a Senate Committee which is due to report in May 2016.