This Newsletter covers some of the many developments affecting Gambling Law and Regulation in Australia which have occurred in the first half of 2014. Our difficulty has been limiting the topics that could be covered by our Newsletter.

Of particular note in the first half of 2014 are:

  • The differing results in the claims brought by each of Tatts and Tabcorp against the Victorian Government resulting from the decision of the Victorian Government to proceed with a new regulatory regime relating to the supply of gaming machines to venues in Victoria. It is not just the size of the claims brought, which total in excess of $1 billion, that makes these decisions interesting, but more the recognition that scope does exist for disputes between gaming licensees and governments to become the subject of litigation. It is not often the case that dealings between governments and gaming licensees, at least in the Australian environment, are the subject of examination by a Court. These cases are particularly interesting as they confirm the uncertainty and insecurity associated with gambling licences due to the concept of sovereign risk. These issues are assessed in this Newsletter in “Gambling Licences. With One Hand a Licence May Be Given By Government, with the Other Hand, the Licence May Be Taken Away.”
  • With the election of the Federal Coalition Government in late 2013, the previous Government’s reforms relating to gaming machines and its mandatory pre-commitment policy were at risk. This was confirmed in legislation passed by the Federal Parliament earlier this year, which is examined in this Newsletter in “Poker Machines and (No More) Mandatory Pre-Commitment: Federal Government Repeals National Gambling Reform Legislation.”
  • Australian privacy law reforms have also had impact on the gambling sector. One aspect of those reforms not contemplated previously relates to the potential application of those reforms to gambling operators providing credit to customers. This issue is examined in “Privacy Law and Credit Reporting: Do You Offer Your Customers Credit Betting? You May Be a “Credit Provider”!”
  • The issue of sports integrity affects an increasing number of our clients. There has been significant publicity given to this issue in Australia, including with the arrest that took place at the Australian Open in January relating to “courtsiding” (which resulted in a prosecution later being withdrawn) and successful prosecutions being brought in Victoria under specific match fixing legislation. Our article entitled “Match-Fixing and Betting on Semi-Professional/Amateur Leagues: The Challenge Facing Australian Sport” examines those prosecutions (which relate to matches involving the Southern Stars Football Club), the relationship between sports integrity and wagering operators in the Australian environment, and the conundrum that exists between sports betting, sports integrity and the involvement of amateur sport.
  • The UK Gambling Commission has introduced reforms which will alter the licensing scheme to one of ‘point of consumption’ rather than ‘point of supply’. It remains unclear whether applicants for UK gambling licences  who provide services to residents of countries outside the UK who wish to advertise their brand in the UK (for example, by sponsoring a Premier League team) will be required to “please explain” to the Commission the legality of their provision of services outside the UK. In the case of applicants providing services to Australian residents, this will require consideration of the Interactive Gambling Act and other relevant laws. This issue is discussed in further detail in “From Liverpool FC to Australia: The Long Arm of the UK Gambling Reforms. How will Operators Offering Online Gambling Services to Australians be Affected?”
  • Our final articles, “Changes to the Laws Relating to Gambling Advertising in South Australia: What Does Your Marketing Manager Need to Know Before You Advertise Wagering Services in South Australia?” and, “The Australian Taxation System: What Do Wagering Operators Need To Know?” summarise, respectively, the Australian taxation system and how it applies to wagering operators, and issues that arise in conducting nationwide advertising campaigns for wagering operators and addressing specific legislative requirements in South Australia.

Unfortunately, we were not left with enough space to address other developments that have occurred recently in the Australian gambling environment. These developments include:

  • The approval of Crown, and key personnel, by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gambling Authority, in connection with its application lodged almost 18 months ago to operate a casino as part of the Sydney Barangaroo development;
  • The decision by the Queensland Government to select a shortlist of potential operators of new casinos in Queensland;
  • The involvement of the ACCC in two different gambling matters, namely:
    • its investigation of the acquisition by the developer of a recently announced casino resort in Cairns of the existing Cairns casino; and
    • the request for authorisation by Tabcorp of the proposed international pooling arrangements involving the pari-mutuel pools managed by Tabcorp (which covers Victorian and New South Wales pools) with overseas pari-mutuel pools;
  • The extension of the Victorian sports betting model to New South Wales; and
  • Changes in the racefields policies of many Australian racing bodies.