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All-in-one online gambling ban just a click away

Mon, Dec 3, 11:44am by Staff Writer

Australian residents will have the ability to ban themselves from all betting sites and apps as part of a suite of new industry standards set to roll out in the next 18 months.

The Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher announced that every state and territory government around the country has signed off on the reforms.

The online sports betting industry has become the fastest-growing form of gambling in Australia, rising 15 per cent a year.

This has prompted concerns within the federal government that the dangers of developing problematic gambling habits could be greater online.

Mr Fletcher told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australians’ “affinity for technology and a long-standing cultural acceptance” of gambling had seen the rate of online problem-gambling rise to “three times higher” than other types of gambling.

He said the new measures were designed to reduce the harm that could be caused to gamblers and their families by “excessive or at-risk online wagering”.

“The agreement to these measures by all governments mean consumers will be protected, no matter where they live in Australia,” Mr Fletcher said.

New reforms made in concert with bookmakers

The current gambling laws in Australia vary from state to state, but this National Consumer Protection Framework would cement a series of 10 nationally consistent minimum standards applying to all online wagering providers.

The standards will apply to more than 2.5 million active online betting accounts.

The nation’s largest online-only bookmakers – Sportsbet, BetEasy, Ladbrokes and Bet365 – have been working with governments through the Stephen Conroy-led group Responsible Wagering Australia.

They have developed new gaming reforms, the most important of which is the national self-exclusion scheme permitting punters to ban themselves across states and all wagering sites at once on smartphones, computers and tablets with a single click.

“If you exclude from one, you exclude from all,” Mr Fletcher said.

Other reforms include a voluntary opt-out scheme for gamblers to set betting limits when they sign up, a ban on offering “inducements” to tempt Australians to open online betting accounts or to refer a friend to open one, and a responsibility for bookmakers to provide online customers with more detailed accounts of their betting activity.

Mr Conroy is representing the online bookmakers and said the federal government had led a “thorough and consultative process on this important package of measures.”

Responsible gambling an industry brainchild

Responsible gambling has been a cornerstone of government policy since the 1990s. The concept was a gambling industry invention, developed as gambling was legalised and expanded globally.

It allowed the industry to counter strict regulations in response to the harmful side effects associated with gambling.

This has been a widely effective strategy for the gambling industry, although its effect at minimising harm is difficult to measure.

Codes of practice at Australian casinos, pub and clubs implement responsible gambling charters. These include warning signs and the ability to intervene when someone shows signs of harm.

There are maximum bet limits on poker machines and load-up limits on how much money can be inserted at one time.

The online gambling sector has benefited from the Internet and app-based wagering. The most recent figures from the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that sport bettors were overwhelmingly male (88 per cent), aged between 18 and 49 (75 per cent) and working full-time (70 per cent).

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