The Federal Government recently asked for public input for their review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. Internet gambling sites worldwide have increased from 50 in the year 1998 to 2,319 in the year 2010. The current global market exceeds US$29.3 billion. It is estimated that Australians spent US$968 million on offshore casino, poker and bingo sites in 2010.
The Newsagents Association of NSW & ACT (NANA) is concerned that Internet gambling will have a detrimental effect on what are the least harmful gambling channels – the local Newsagents and Lottery Agents.
"Local Newsagents and Lottery Agents tend to be universally trusted. Those human face-to-face interactions with Australians everyday when buying their lottery tickets and scratchies help temper excesses and reinforce responsible gambling," said NANA CEO Chiang Lim.
NANA highlighted in its submission numerous concerns about the negative aspects of Internet gambling, including the opportunities to steal money, credit card numbers and identity theft, "cheat" on games, money laundering, encourage the acceptance of youth gambling, exacerbate pathological gambling and the human cost, consequential effects on sports, repetitive betting, the convergence of Internet gambling businesses, and the easier and easier access by virtually any Australian.
Mr Lim said, "given the risks that continue to exist in the Internet, additional reasonable and effective regulations should be contemplated in order to protect vulnerable Australians from 'losing their shirts', or worse – their life savings or even their homes." NANA's ten recommendations were:
1. the imposition of an AUD$200 per week limit per person (which is in line with the existing West Australian regulation);
2. player registration process via publicly trusted outlets including Newsagents and Lottery Agents;
3. criminalise the use of financial instruments used for illegal Internet gambling;
4. enable injunctions to be issued to any party to assist in the prevention or restraint of suspect illegal Internet gambling;
5. enable the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to require financial institutions to block or filter illegal Internet gambling financial transactions;
6. conduct integrity tests on Internet gambling operators of their customer account details including age verification and identity;
7. licensing of Internet gambling operators and ownerships;
8. inter-agency cooperation between the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC);
9. international cooperation; and
10. additional education and counselling.
On 6 October 2011, NANA recently received its Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)'s authorisation to collectively bargain with NSW Lotteries, on behalf of Member Newsagents and Lottery Agents based in NSW & ACT.