Gambling Crackdown To Help Vulnerable Bettors
Wednesday, 27th February 2019 at 11:53 am
Children and problem gamblers will find it harder to place online sports bets after the introduction of new rules that compel betting agencies to speed up the time it takes to verify customers’ identities.
Federal Minister for Social Services Paul Fletcher announced on Tuesday that agencies will now have 14 days instead of three months to verify identities, in a move he said would crack down on problem gambling.
“With more than 240,000 people at risk of, or already experiencing, significant harm from online wagering, we are delivering reforms to protect vulnerable Australians,” Fletcher said.
The reforms follow a report, commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, which found one quarter of bettors were under 18 when placing their first sports bet, and 70 per cent were at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling harm.
Tony Mohr, Alliance for Gambling Reform executive director, told Pro Bono News the rule change was welcome as the three month limit was essentially ineffective.
“If someone had self-excluded from online gambling, you wouldn’t actually become excluded for 90 days, or if you were underage and using someone else’s credit card, you could continue to do that for three months,” Mohr said.
“You can lose a lot of money in that time, which makes it pretty pointless.”
He said the change should be made as soon as possible, but pointed out that it was by no means a “silver bullet” solution.
“We can understand it will take some operational execution to make the reduction from 90 days down to 14, but we’d be really happy to see that it gets done as quickly as possible,” he said.
“It’s not going to magically mean that nobody gets hurt by gambling.
“What this measure does is prevent people from getting into trouble before it happens… and that’s an important part of the harm prevention program.”
Fletcher said the government would review the reduction in 12 months, with the intention of cutting it to 72 hours.
Mohr encouraged online gambling agencies to move ahead of regulation and make the reduction themselves.
“We’ve seen leadership from some of the banks recently, where they’ve said they would block credit cards once a person exceeds a certain amount on gambling, or just block credit card use altogether for gambling,” he said.
“If they want to win back a bit of trust after really not being very trustworthy, they could move ahead and process these checks ahead of being required to by regulation.”
This is the first change to be made under the Commonwealth’s National Consumer Protection Framework which includes other measures such as stopping offshore providers, stopping lines of credit for online sports betting, and links between payday lenders and online betting agencies.
Fletcher encouraged all states and territories to progress the national framework legislation as quickly as possible.