April 28th, 2016
The government's decision on Thursday to ban both credit betting and online in-play wagers on sport marks the biggest shake-up of Australia's gambling rules since a set of ultimately doomed reforms instigated by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie in 2011.
The ban on online in-play was included in a response to a review of Australia's wagering sector written by former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell.
It followed calls for the dated Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), created in 2001, to be overhauled to allow for changes in the way punters use technology to place bets.
A 2013 review into the Interactive Gambling Act actually recommended online "in-play" betting on the outcome of a match be allowed. However, the recommendation did not progress at a state level.
But with Australians some of the heaviest gamblers in the world, Tudge says it was a difficult balance between imposing a new set of regulations while recognising punters want to use technology to place a bet.
He says ultimately the government's focus was on making sure problem gambling does not become an even bigger issue for at-risk gamblers.
"The experts tell us that in-play betting, because it has the potential to be very repetitive, is likely to lead to more problem gambling and that's a very significant concern for us," says Tudge.
"Our overall message is that we already have enough problem gambling in Australia without opening up opportunities for people to gamble on literally every moment – every kick, every ball of every match in the country from your living room, late at night without any protections."
While Tudge has indicated he expects overseas operators like William Hill and Bet365 offering online in-play betting via click-to-call to halt the service immediately, none are understood to have closed their services yet.
Coming Face to Face With Problem Gambling
Alan Tudge(pictured above ) remembers all too well the moment he met the face of problem gambling and an insight into the extent that problem gambling is negatively impacting this country...
Five years ago a member of his Aston electorate in Melbourne's outer east was bankrupted after racking up an $80,000 debt betting online credit with Sportsbet, owned by Irish gambling giant Paddy Power.
The man lost the lot over one weekend and when he couldn't pay it back was taken to court by Sportsbet.
Half a decade on the Liberal MP, now the federal government's Human Services Minister, has been handed the delicate job of overhauling Australia's $20 billion online wagering sector.
Tudge admits that incident went a long way to shaping his view that restrictions needed to be made to Australia's gambling laws.
"It certainly framed my outlook in relation to the issue of credit betting. That person wouldn't have even been able to get a second-hand car loan given his circumstances at the time as an unemployed individual," Tudge told Fairfax Media in Sydney on Friday.
"But he was given $80,000 in credit from a gambling company. There's too much of a conflict of interest for a gambling company to be both a betting provider as well as a bank offering credit to facilitate that betting."
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