AHA PUSHES FOR INTERACTIVE GAMBLING ACT REFORM

by Andy Young

The Australian Hotels Association has joined forces with ClubsNSW to push for a ban on betting on the outcome of a lottery – effectively shutting down the Lottoland online gambling business.

Lottoland enables punters to bet on the outcome of a lottery and recently launched a new ‘Kenoland’ product, which enables Australians to bet on the results of overseas Keno draws.

The CEO of the AHA, Stephen Ferguson, told TheShout that he was encouraging the Government to amend the Interactive Gambling Act.

“In September 2017, the Federal Parliament passed reforms related to on line gambling as part of amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act. At the time the Interactive Gambling Bill passed the Senate, Senator Hanson proposed an amendment to with the effect to prohibit ‘betting on the outcome of a lottery’,” Ferguson said.

“The response of the Government was to the effect that Senator Hanson’s proposition was beyond the scope of the bill, but that the Government would consult and examine the issue further.  We understand that on behalf of the Government, Minister Fifield wrote to the Northern Territory Government, which then amended its licence for Lottoland such as to prohibit gambling on Australian lotteries, but still permitting gambling on overseas lotteries.

“Whilst we commend the Government for having driven such change by the NT Government, it is our view that the change does not go far enough to addressing the underlying problem. Since Minister Fifield wrote to the NT Government, Lottoland has introduced a new product ‘Kenoland’, which enables and encourages Australians to gamble on the results of overseas Keno draws (primarily US Keno draws).

“In Australia, Keno is licensed, regulated and taxed by the State and Territory governments. Keno is sold in hotels across Australia.  In comparison to gambling on overseas lotteries such as offered by Kenoland, the Keno offered in Australian hotels: pays taxes in Australian states and Territories; is wholly regulated within Australia; is offered only within a supervised retail environment; and helps hotels support over 50,000 community groups at the grass roots level.

“It was acknowledged by the Government at the time that the Interactive Gambling Act had struggled in its role of keeping Australians, in particular problem and at-risk gamblers, protected from the risks of online gambling. It was also stated that due to the ever-present nature of mobile phones and changes in consumer behaviour, offshore gambling operators are targeting Australians and the parliament must continue to look at innovative ways and means to stop this from happening. Kenoland is a good example of where the Government must act,” Ferguson told TheShout.