Don't make ISPs online problem gambling policemen: IIA

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) says online problem gambling should be tackled at the PC and smartphone level

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has cautioned against placing the onus of protecting problem gamblers on internet service providers, instead arguing that problem gambling must be managed at the point of service access.

In its submission to the review of the federal Interactive Gambling Act 2001, the industry group said that prohibition of online gambling sites and applications was ineffective given the availability of offshore services.

Instead, problem gambling needed to be regulated at the PC and smartphone-level.

“The IIA believes that the point of consumption, that is, the end user's device, is the only effective and technically feasible way of controlling access to content on the Internet,” the submission reads.

According to the IIA, the responsibilities placed on ISPs and other members of the internet industry to help regulate problem gambling under the Act were ineffective and unrealistic.

This, the IIA contends, is due to high volume of users, the high volume of data users can access, and the wide ranging nature of the prohibitions under the Act. Proposed reforms would also place high costs on ISPs and other service providers.

“In particular ISPs are given a gatekeeper role and are required to give effect to the Act’s ‘designated notification scheme’ upon receiving notification from the ACMA,” the submission reads.

“[ISPs and other service providers], as well as online platforms, which are used by content and service providers to distribute their content and/or services, including gambling content and/or services, should not have gatekeeper responsibilities placed upon them.”

Discussing harm minimisation and community welfare, the IIA said it advocated a regulated licensing model with strict requirements on licensees to overcome what it views as the questionable effectiveness of such measures under the Act.

“Not only can problem gamblers access online gaming services provided by offshore providers, who operate under a variety of regulatory regimes, recreational gamblers also can resort to those offshore providers,” the submission reads.

“In other words, Australian online gamblers who participate at offshore sites forego the protection of Australian law and harm minimisation requirements when they use offshore gambling providers.”

The call for submissions on the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 was made in August this year. The review was to include investigating 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.

[[xref:|The review|was to also examine the growth of online gambling and the impact of smartphones and the convergence of new and existing technologies.

It would 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. Offshore regulatory methods – including their effectiveness and cost – was also to be revised.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @Tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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