This year has seen significant developments in Australia’s regulatory landscape relating to gambling. Among the key developments that have taken place are:
- The announcement of the proposed merger between Tabcorp and Tatts Group, two of Australia’s leading gambling operators. This merger is under consideration by Australia’s anti trust regulator, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). In the last couple of weeks, a consortium led by Macquarie Group has launched a takeover bid for Tatts Group (which has been rejected by the Board of Tatts Group). It has been suggested in the media that other offers are likely. The outcome of these transactions will have considerable ramifications for Australia’s gambling and lottery sectors.
- The 2016 Federal election has resulted in gambling becoming more of a debated topic in Australia’s Federal Parliament. This has been due to an increased number of politicians making comments on the gambling sector, with members of the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) being the most vocal in their concerns relating to the potential harm caused by gambling.
- The proposed Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill. This Bill was introduced into Federal Parliament in October by Minister Alan Tudge MP, the Minister for Social Services, as part of the Government’s response to the Review conducted by the Hon. Barry O’Farrell MP relating to offshore online wagering.
- The claim brought in the Federal Court of Australia against Aristocrat Technologies Limited and Crown Resorts Limited seeking a declaration that features of certain gambling machines constitute contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law.
- The increased focus on the activities of casinos globally in sourcing VIP customers from overseas, particularly from China.
We will monitor each of these issues in 2017. This newsletter cannot comment on all of the legal issues that have arisen recently, but it includes Focus Papers on a number of topics of relevance to participants in the gambling sector, both in Australia and globally.
Highlighted in this newsletter are the following topics:
- Junkets, premium players and Australian casinos: This focus paper seeks to dispel the mystique associated with junket arrangements particularly as they are part of the normal course of business of any casino, whether located in Australia or elsewhere in the world: see Australian Land Based Casinos and Junkets – the Importance of Corporate Governance and Brand Protection.
- Developments in Australia relating to the regulation of online wagering and the possible implementation of a national consumer protection framework. As part of the reforms announced by the Federal Government in respect of the regulation in Australia of interactive gambling, details of which are summarised in focus papers which we have issued earlier in the year1, it is proposed that a national consumer protection framework will also be introduced. This is summarised at: A National Consumer Protection Framework for Australian Online Licensed Wagering Operators: Proposed Changes.
- eSports: One of the areas in which innovation in games development is most apparent is the development of eSports. This has been reported extensively globally and is less recognised in Australia. However, this is likely to change. For further information see: Ready Player One – Is Australia ready for the next big thing in gaming: eSports?
- Wagering advertising: As mentioned in previous newsletters, one of the aspects of gambling most visible to Australians is wagering advertising. In 2016, a code of practice for wagering advertising and marketing was introduced by the AANA and there have been a number of decisions which have been published. These are summarised in AANA Wagering Code Decisions – Trends in Complaints and Enforcement.
- Norfolk Island: Finally, an announcement in 2016 marked the end of the role of Norfolk Island in regulating gambling in Australia. Norfolk Island was responsible for the licensing of a considerable number of online gambling participants. However, the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority will cease to be functional on and from 31 March 20172. For further information see: Lights Off for the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority – Update.
We trust that you enjoy this edition of our Gambling Law & Regulation Newsletter and we wish all of our readers a most enjoyable holiday season and a successful and prosperous 2017.
If you have any queries or wish to discuss any of the matters set out in this newsletter or otherwise relating to gambling regulation in Australia or elsewhere, please do not hesitate to contact any of Addisons’ Media and Gaming Team.