New online gambling legislation is yet to pass Parliament, but Church groups are already complaining the proposed laws for online in-play betting aren’t good enough.
A bill was introduced last month to amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to ban online in-play sports betting, along with blocking offshore online casinos.
But it appears operators will still be able to accept bets on the result of a game after the event has started by providing electronic devices at their land-based outlets, such as Tabcorp’s TAB outlets.
While the crackdown on online gambling is supported by The Uniting Church’s Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, the group said in a submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications, more should be done.
“The Synod and Uniting Communities are disappointed at the carve out for excluded gaming services in the Bill, which could provide a significant loophole for online gambling businesses to provide devices on which in-play betting can be conducted,” the submission read.
“It will favour those gambling providers that already have their own geographical locations that people gambling can go to.”
While electronic betting terminals can only take cash and not card, the Uniting Church says the group would rather see the exemption removed while it still allows “existing electronic betting terminals in places such as TABs, casinos, hotels and clubs where they are licensed under a State or Territory law”.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said the legislation will pave the way for protection against harmful gambling for everyday gamblers and in-play betting will only be available at venues where trained staff monitor the behaviour of the punters present.
A submission response from the anti-gambling Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) says the amendments miss the mark since staff in these venues “rarely intervene … when they believe a customer is struggling to control their gambling.”
A spokeswoman for Labor told the Herald Sun the Opposition supports the legislation, but will be keeping a close eye on the market to ensure an incline of in-play betting at land-based venues doesn’t occur.
“We believe the legislation could have gone further but we don’t want to hold up the legislation any longer,” she said.
Despite these objections, the amendments will likely pass when Parliament resumes in February.
The idea the government is taking the notion of providing a consumer protection framework for online punters is beginning to sound like a joke. While we aren’t one to agree with these anti-gambling groups they do shine the light on the contradictory approach the government seems to have with gambling and the flawed solution they’ve offered here so not to endanger their own personal interests.
If the government did care for punters in the way they say they do when it comes to online gambling, calls to shut casinos, RSLs and TABS down would take place. Instead Australian online punters will have to deal with the “it’s harmful online but acceptable offline” view the government has on gambling.
Can I play at online casinos in the meantime?
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