Australia launches online wagering harm protection framework

    The Australian government has introduced the country’s first national protection scheme for harm related to online wagering.

    On Friday last week, Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher said the National Consumer Protection Framework consists of ten nationally consistent minimum protections for consumers of Australian interactive wagering services.

    In a government press release, Mr. Fletcher said Australians’ high affinity for technology and a long-standing cultural acceptance of gambling has seen the rate of online problem gambling activities rise to three times higher than other types of gambling.

    “The measures are designed to reduce the harm that can be caused to individuals and their families by excessive or at-risk online wagering,” he said.
    “The National Framework will apply to about 2.5 million active online wagering accounts, or about a million people in Australia.
    “Most importantly, it will also apply to more than 240,000 Australians already experiencing significant harm from online wagering,” he added.

    According to Fletcher, the framework was developed in response to the recommendations made in the 2015 O’Farrell Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering.

    Responsible Wagering Australia Executive Director, Stephen Conroy, said: “These are landmark reforms which solidify Australia’s place as a leader in social responsibility in wagering.

    “We are grateful to Minister Fletcher and his predecessors, Ministers Tehan and Tudge, for leading a thorough and consultative process on this important package of measures.”

    Under the National Framework, the wagering industry will be required to better inform gamblers of their wagering activity, and people will be given easy-to-use tools that give them the ability to better control their gambling.
    The framework also points to the implementation of measures such as a new online National Self-Exclusion Register allowing people to self-exclude from all online wagering sites and apps in one go.

    “If you exclude from one, you exclude from all—this is a first in Australia,” Fletcher said.
    The framework also builds on legislative reforms already implemented in Australia, such as stopping illegal offshore betting providers, advertising restrictions, and preventing lines of credit for wagering.