Australia’s Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill to enter into force

Australia’s Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (“Bill“) will finally enter into force tomorrow (13 September 2017) following months of debate in the lower and upper houses of Australian parliament. The amended law, which received Royal Assent on 16 August, covers a number of areas of interest including changes which seek to clarify the provisions of the existing Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (“IGA“) relating to illegal offshore gambling.

Notable changes arising from the new legislation include:

  • Recognition of two types of “interactive gambling services”. “Regulated interactive gambling services”, which can be provided by operators who are appropriately licensed and authorised in an Australian State or Territory, and “prohibited interactive gambling services” which are not permitted.
  • Clarification on the restriction on in-play betting. “Wagering” operators will be expressly prohibited from accepting in-play wagers, including bets placed via “click to call” services. The only exemption to the prohibition on in-play wagers will be those placed via traditional telephone betting.
  • Greater enforcement powers granted to the Federal regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority. This includes a range of enforcement tools including infringement notices, injunctions and civil penalties, as well as a notification power which will  enable the ACMA to disclose information relating to the prohibited or regulated “interactive gambling services” to international regulators of other jurisdictions.

The Bill strengthens the prohibitions already set out under the IGA and reaffirms that the supply of online gambling services to persons in Australia is prohibited, irrespective of the operator’s location, unless such an operator holds the necessary licence under the laws of an Australian State or Territory.

Separately, the result of a Senate inquiry into whether poker should be included in the list of prohibited interactive services is scheduled to be delivered this Thursday 14 September 2017, a day after the Bill enters into force. It is unclear at this stage whether the Inquiry will give rise to further amendments to the IGA in the coming months, separate to those to be introduced tomorrow.

The consolidated final version of the bill can be found on the Australian parliament’s website.