Govt to investigate role of smartphones in online gambling

The Federal Government has launched a broader review into the Interactive Gambling Act 2001

The Federal Government is to investigate the role smartphones play in the acceleration of online gambling services in Australia and overseas under a broader review into its Interactive Gambling Act 2001 legislation.

The review, to be conducted by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), will examine the growth of online gambling and the impact of smartphones and the convergence of new and existing technologies.

It will also revise the adequacy of current technical, operational and enforcement provisions relating to advertising of gambling services, and examine technology and platform neutrality in regards to “betting on the run” and micro-betting.

The department will also look at offshore regulatory methods, taking into consideration their effectiveness and cost.

The review follows comments made by former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, about the promotion of live-odds during sporting events.

According to Kennett, betting is accelerating rapidly and has the potential to have a greater impact than gaming machines.

“These betting shops, which allow you to wager on every conceivable competition, have no boundaries. They use events conducted anywhere in the world, and can be accessed by phone or the internet from anywhere in the world,” Kennett wrote.

“What I strongly object to is the massive, in-your-face promotion of the betting odds available everywhere: At AFL football matches, on TV, during games and football shows, as well as on radio and in the press.”

Responding to Kennett's comments, communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the Federal Government had already moved to address the issue.

According to Conroy, both Federal and State governments in May flagged plans to work alongside media, sporting organisations and the betting industry to reduce the promotion of live-odds throughout sports coverage. They additionally looked at ways to limit the promotion of live odds inside sporting grounds on scoreboards or by ground announcers.

"The Gillard Government understands that the promotion of live-odds is becoming insidious in sports coverage and can contribute to normalising gambling behaviour for vulnerable people and children," Conroy said in a statement.

"We have given the industries the opportunity to self regulate by, for example, developing satisfactory amendments to their existing codes by the end of June 2012, otherwise the Australian Government will consider the need for legislation."

Earlier this year, independent MP Andrew Wilkie called on pokie operators and state governments to help tackle problem gambling and claimed a trial of mandatory poker machine pre-commitment technology would take place ahead of a full pre-commitment scheme starting in 2014.

While the deadline would not be enough time for a national technical solution, Wilkie said it would allow for states and territories to develop their own pre-commitment technologies to a common set of national standards and design features.

Despite this, Sportsbet chief executive, Cormac Barry, earlier this month said online gambling companies operating within Australia provided more protection against problem gambling than retail outlets.

“There are occasions where people will try and open a second or third account to try and get more money on — customers have limits on how much they can bet on each selection — so we run real-time matching software that will pick out common characteristics with similar accounts and that will flag and alert to our fraud team,” he said at the time.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Tags gamblingDepartment of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE)mobile gamblingsmartphonesDepartment of Broadbandonline gamblinggovernment

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