Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) supports strong regulatory action to prevent illegal offshore gambling websites from offering products and services to Australian consumers. These illegal online platforms entice Australian consumers by offering products prohibited in the Australian market, such as in play betting. As they pay no Australian taxes and make no contribution to the domestic sports and racing industry, they are free to offer strong financial incentives to Australian consumers.
All customers betting with licensed Australian online providers must have verified accounts and this is supported by a range of effective responsible gambling measures, such as deposit limits, time-outs, detailed activity statements and self-exclusion. Illegal offshore websites provide none of these consumer protections. With hundreds of these sites actively targeting the Australian market, the risk to consumer protection is significant.
Noting that reliable data on the quantum of black-market activity is difficult to compile, RWA utilises independent research undertaken by internationally recognised UK analysts H2 Gambling Capital showing:
- $1.016 billion is spent by Australians each year on illegal overseas gambling websites.
- The ongoing operation of illegal offshore gambling sites represents +$360 million of lost tax revenue each year.
In response to the ongoing threat of illegal offshore gambling websites, RWA supports:
- The ongoing role of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, through the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, in targeting illegal offshore operators.
- Recurrent government funding allocations to advance consumer awareness campaigns highlighting the illegal nature of offshore gambling sites.
- Governments ensuring that Australia is not only offering the highest standards of consumer protection, but also fostering a viable taxation and regulatory environment to Australian-licensed operators.
The online wagering market in Australia is one of the most tightly regulated globally and affords Australians with unparalleled consumer protections. Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) is committed to ensuring Australia has the best evidence-based consumer protections anywhere in the world and critical to this is a viable and competitive domestic wagering industry. This high level of regulation has resulted in significant discrepancies in the taxation and regulatory approaches taken between Australian jurisdictions.
Together, these inconsistencies represent a significant cost burden on industry which reduce its competitiveness and long-term viability. RWA supports a deregulation agenda that removes the regulatory barriers that prevent investment and job creation.
Consistent with the Australian Government Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis, RWA supports the requirement that:
“Policy makers should clearly demonstrate a public policy problem necessitating [government] intervention and should examine a range of genuine and viable options, including non-regulatory options, to address the problem.”
RWA will advocate in favour of more consistent approaches to regulation across jurisdictions in support of evidence-based effective regulation in place of unsustainable overregulation.
Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) and its members are committed to socially responsible advertising in keeping with community expectations. RWA is committed to working with governments and industry to explore further opportunities to achieve a more nationally consistent evidence-based advertising framework for wagering, including with respect to more consistent responsible gambling messaging. Wagering is a highly regulated and widely accepted form of entertainment in Australia.
The ability to responsibly advertise to Australian customers is one of the few advantages domestic wagering service providers have over illegal offshore gambling websites which represent a significant threat to consumer protection. RWA supports Australia’s effective system of advertising self regulation, which meets community expectations.
Provisions administered by Ad Standards supported by specific codes including the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics and the AANA Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communication Code provide a comprehensive and responsive framework of regulation based on established and tested community standards.
RWA supports existing limitations on the broadcast of gambling advertisements and maintains that any future review of broadcast advertising provisions must be evidence-based and clearly in-line with community standards.
The practice and promotion of responsible gambling is central to the way Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) and its members operate. We are committed to providing consumers with the world’s best responsible gambling tools. The online wagering market in Australia is one of the most tightly regulated globally and provides Australians with unparalleled consumer protections. These protections have been further strengthened by the development of a National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) for Online Wagering agreed to by the Commonwealth, and state and territory governments.
RWA remains a strong advocate for the NCPF. The NCPF agreement resulted in ten new world-leading measures, which once fully implemented, will firm Australia’s place as the global leader in protecting online wagering consumers.
The NCPF measures include:
- Prohibition of lines of credit being offered by wagering service providers.
- Prohibition of links between wagering and payday lending.
- Strengthened customer age and identity verification procedures.
- Restrictions on inducements, including a ban on account sign-up offers.
- Simpler account closure procedures.
- Voluntary opt-out pre-commitment (i.e. the mandatory ability to set a deposit limit).
- Activity statements.
- More consistent responsible gambling messaging.
- Staff training in the provision of responsible gambling online.
- A National Self-Exclusion Register.
RWA is committed to working with governments at all levels to implement these measures and achieve national harmonisation. Notwithstanding these world–leading consumer protections, Responsible Wagering Australia remains committed to considering evidence-based proposals to strengthen responsible gambling in Australia.
In considering consumer protection proposals, RWA will have regard to:
- National harmonisation.
- Ability to address a clearly demonstrated and well–documented gap in existing protections.
- Ability to assist individuals in making informed choices based on their own circumstances.
- A positive cost-benefit relationship, including with respect to discrete and overall taxation and regulatory burdens.
- The risk of causing perverse unintended consequences.
- Recognition of wagering as a legitimate form of recreational entertainment.
Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) believes that point of consumption tax (POCT) is a punitive measure that represents a direct threat to the growth and viability of Australia’s wagering, sport and racing industries. At the unsustainable levels seen in some Australian jurisdictions, POCT cannot simply be absorbed by online wagering service providers.
As transaction costs increase, consumer utility and confidence will decrease and investment in Australia’s domestic racing industry will invariably decline. Australian licensed online wagering service providers face some of the world’s highest effective tax rates and compete on an unlevel playing field against illegal overseas online wagering providers and highly protected domestic monopolists.
Responsive technology-driven business models have a record of disrupting historical monopolies which have no economic incentive to adapt outdated business practices. Online wagering service providers are supporting a consumer-led structural shift and POCT unfairly punishes innovation and acts against new-economy consumer preferences.
- Australia’s online wagering service providers face some of the highest effective tax rates in the world, where in some states close to 50 percent of revenue goes to state wagering taxes and legislated fees to sporting and racing codes before corporate tax, payroll taxes, or GST.
- POCT is levied at different levels across states and territories and is administered by separate state/territory legislative instruments creating significant regulatory complexity and compliance costs.
- Imposition of POCT has a clear correlation with declining racing industry revenues.
- Illegal offshore wagering websites can be freely accessed by Australian consumers. These platforms pay no taxes, and punitive POCT measures create an unfair advantage for these illegal operators as Australian consumers move to seek more favourable returns.
In response to inconsistent and unsustainable imposition of point of consumption taxes across Australian jurisdictions, RWA supports:
- A coordinated, evidence-based national review of POC tax settings and outcomes.
- An immediate freeze on POCT levels and staged rollback of POCT to sustainable levels.
- Examination of the Commonwealth’s potential role in POCT administration.
- Equal imposition of any POCT on all wagering providers, including historical monopoly operators.
Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) supports consumers’ rights to directly manage their gambling preferences, including self-exclusion, and expenditure limits, on a real-time basis. As leading Australian researchers have acknowledged, there is little empirical research into the prevalence and patterns of gambling-related consumer credit use and any associated risks.
From a public policy perspective this represents a challenge to the principles of evidence-based policy, the fundamental foundation of Australia’s framework of regulation, and a basic consumer expectation in matters restricting consumer choice in an open market economy. In line with community expectations, RWA supports evidence-based policy.
As data on the nature of credit card gambling in the Australian context is very limited, RWA will seek to advance the collection of independent evidence addressing:
- Benchmarks for the prevalence of gambling-related consumer credit use and associated risk outcomes; and
- Understanding the features of consumer credit products and their risk profile(s) in regard to consumer wellbeing and responsible wagering outcomes.
Consistent with the National Consumer Protection Framework policy for responsible gambling tools provided by online wagering service providers, RWA supports a mandated ability for consumers to directly manage their gambling expenditure through:
- An ability to set limits on gambling transactions.
- An ability to temporarily opt-out of credit card-based gambling transactions
- An ability to permanently stop all credit card-related gambling transactions
In line with existing protections provided by RWA members, we advocate that these options should apply immediately to consumer accounts and have a mandatory 7-day cooling-off period before being removed, with the exception of self-exclusion which would not be subject to a cooling-off period. RWA supports these measures being formalised within existing regulatory frameworks. RWA commits to good-faith consideration of alternative models based on prevailing evidence.