Welcome to a bumper issue of Addisons’ latest Gambling Law & Regulation Newsletter.
There have been a considerable number of significant issues affecting the gambling sector that have occurred since our last newsletter and some of them are covered in this edition.
Highlighted in this newsletter are the following topics:
- Amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act. Earlier this year, the Federal Government released its response to the review conducted by the Hon. Barry O’Farrell (the Review). Almost all of the recommendations made by the Review were accepted by the Government, save for the recommendation made in the Review that further consideration be given to liberalisation of the restriction on online in play betting on sports. Indeed, the Review, and the Government’s response, focused on the activities of the onshore bookmakers, rather than activities of the offshore gaming operators.
Now that the July 2016 Federal election has taken place (with a wafer thin majority for the Coalition Government in the lower house of the Federal Parliament), it is anticipated that a bill will be tabled soon proposing amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act which are consistent with the Government’s responses to the Review.
The recommendations in the Review, and the Government’s responses, are highlighted in our focus paper Australia – Release of Report on Illegal Offshore Wagering – Another Missed Opportunity for Reform of Australia’s Prohibitions on Online Gambling?
- High Court’s decisions involving State of Victoria, Tabcorp and Tatts. It is rare that disputes involving gambling issues reach the High Court of Australia, Australia’s highest court of appeal. However, where the stakes are high, as they were in this case which involved claims brought by each Tabcorp and Tattersalls for damages in respect of the decision of the State of Victoria to change the method applying to the licensing of the supply of gambling machines in Victoria, it is not surprising that the High Court was prepared to exercise its jurisdiction. In this case, the High Court confirmed the principle of sovereign immunity in respect of the grant of gambling licences: Your Gambling Licence is a Privilege NOT a Right – the Australian Position
- Gambling Advertising. Hardly a day passes without there being media comment about the extent to which Australia’s licensed wagering operators engage in promotional activity and the growth of sports betting1. Due to the level of concern, further regulatory measures are being considered continuously by State and Territory regulators2 as well as through the introduction of the self regulatory codes. For a summary of the recently introduced AANA Code of Practice for Wagering and Advertising Marketing: see: Self-Regulation for Australian Wagering Operators: the AANA Code of Practice for Wagering Advertising and Marketing3.
- Norfolk Island. Together with the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island has been the leading licensing jurisdiction for online gambling in Australia. With the recent change in status of Norfolk Island from a self governing external territory of Australia to a regional council of New South Wales, there has been considerable speculation about the continuation of the Norfolk Island gambling licensing regime. These developments are summarised in: Lights off or business as usual? – What is the status of the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority?
- Gambling Sector and Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Requirements. Australian licensed gambling operators are required to comply with obligations set out in Australia’s anti money laundering and counter terrorism financing legislation. Among the obligations imposed by the legislation is the necessity to maintain an Anti Money Laundering Program and comply with the requirements set out in the relevant legislation. Last year, the regulator, AUSTRAC, commenced proceedings claiming that Tabcorp entities failed to comply with their obligations under the legislation. These proceedings are being watched closely by all entities which are subject to the requirements of the AML/CTF legislation, including gambling industry participants, particularly as these proceedings approach a hearing, now due to take place in June 2017. See our summary in The Tabcorp Files: An Update on the AUSTRAC v Tabcorp Proceedings
- New Zealand. Last year saw the announcement of a review into New Zealand’s legal framework dealing with online betting services provided by offshore operators to persons in New Zealand. Since then, the Working Group responsible for conducting the review has submitted its report to the responsible Minister; and more recently, the Minister has released a Discussion Paper, outlining specific proposals for legislative reform and calling for submissions. The proposals include imposing ‘consumption’ and ‘use of data’ fees on offshore gambling operators. The closing date for submissions was 27 May 2016, however we are not aware of any announcements relating to these proposals, nor of any proposed legislation to implement them. Our article updates last year’s focus paper concerning the review’s announcement to cover these, and associated, developments – see New Zealand - Update on Review of Offshore Online Betting Regulation.
Similar proposals in South Australia to introduce a place of consumption fee regime are being monitored closely. As we write this newsletter, these proposals are the subject of considerable debate, and opposition by sports betting operators. We are monitoring closely the progress of these proposals and will report on the outcome in the next edition of our newsletter.
In the meantime, we trust you enjoy this edition of our Addisons Gambling Law & Regulation newsletter. If you have any queries or wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact any of Addisons’ Media and Gaming team.
1 This is highlighted in the 2014-15 Australian Gambling Statistics released earlier this week. On the other hand, the proportion of gambling revenue derived from sports betting (although growing) is small, when compared to the revenues derived from poker machines.
2 For the most recent proposals in Victoria, see https://myviews.justice.vic.gov.au/static-betting-advertising. Submissions are due on 12 September 2016.
3 The first decision under this Code was handed down on 10 August 2016: see ASB - William Hill Case Report