No Liberalisation of IGA
The Liberal government has made it clear that there will be no liberalisation of the existing federal restrictions on mobile / online gaming under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth) (IGA). Indeed it has expressed a clear intention to investigate the best methods of enforcing the IGA given the absence of any meaningful enforcement steps to date.
Labor Government Reforms Repealed
Various gambling reforms were introduced by the former Labor government in 2012 via the National Gambling Reform Act 2012 (Cth) (NGA), as well as the National Gambling Reform (Related Matters) Act (No.1) 2012 (Cth) and National Gambling Reform (Related Matters) Act (No. 2) 2012 (Cth) (Related Matters Acts). Many of those measures have now been repealed by the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (Cth) (Amendment Act) which was assented to on 31 March 2014.
Schedule 1 of the Amendment Act has amended the NGA (which is now called the Gambling Measures Act 2012) and repealed the Related Matters Acts. In doing so, the following measures introduced by the former Labor government have been abolished:
- Measures requiring automatic teller machines on gaming premises (except casinos) to prevent a person from withdrawing more than $250 cash using any one card in a 24 hour period. Now that they have been abolished, reports indicate that Ladbrokes Australia will introduce a card which will enable wins to be instantly withdrawn from any ATM or spent via Eftpos with a daily withdrawal limit of $1,000 or daily spend of $2,500 via Eftpos;
- Measures requiring manufacturers and importers of gaming machines to ensure that such machines are capable of providing for precommitment systems if they are manufactured or imported on or after 31 December 2014; • Measures requiring approved pre-commitment systems to be put in place, and dynamic electronic warnings to be displayed, on gaming machines that are made available for use on and after 31 December 2018;
- Measures requiring the Productivity Commission to undertake reviews; and
- Measures providing for the National Gambling Regulator, supervisory levy and gaming machine regulation levy.
In addition, provisions relating to the controversial mandatory pre- commitment scheme for gaming machines scheduled to be trialled in the Australian Capital Territory have also been repealed by the Amendment Act. Mandatory systems require all people who use gaming machines to set a limit before they can commence play.
Voluntary Pre-Commitment for EGMs
The Liberal government has however expressed its support for “voluntary pre-commitment on gaming machines in venues nationally” as part of its broader plan to encourage “responsible gambling by all gamblers”, notwithstanding the above repeals. Voluntary pre-commitment allows (rather than requires) a player of a gaming machine to set a limit on the amount that the player is prepared to lose, and assists the player to keep to the limit. Moving forwards, the Amendment Act indicates that the Commonwealth will work with the State and Territory Governments, the gaming industry, academics and the community sector to develop a “realistic timetable” for implementing a voluntary pre-commitment scheme. It will also develop a “realistic timetable” for ensuring that all gaming machines are actually capable of supporting a venue based voluntary pre-commitment scheme in conjunction with the State and Territory Governments as well as the gaming industry itself. Further, it will work with the State and Territory Governments on the most appropriate way of administering the scheme.
Separately from the above development, various States and Territories are already advanced in implementing such schemes.