Category Archive: Australia

Australia: Do slot (aka “pokie”) machines fall foul of the Australian Consumer Law?

By Jane Collis.

Contributing partner – Melinda Upton.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform (the Alliance) thinks so. In October 2015, the Alliance’s representatives spoke with the Australian media to announce that the Alliance, which consists of local city councils, religious organisations and not for profits targeting problem gambling and public health, is working on a potential claim against the multi-billion dollar slot machine industry in Australia.

The claim foreshadowed by the Alliance has two arms:

  1. Australian Consumer Law (ACL): The Alliance argues that designers of the machines have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in contravention of section 18 of the ACL because the machines make players think certain things are happening that are actually not. For example – a AU$1 bet may yield a AU30 cent win, which is actually a AU70 cent loss, however the machine will play graphics and sounds that indicate a win. Another design feature said to be misleading is near miss results.
  2. Negligence: The Alliance asserts that some industry players have negligently breached their duty of care to players of the machines under tort law in Australia.

The potential claim is still in its infancy. No specific industry target has been identified or claim filed in any court. The precise nature of the remedies desired are also largely unknown, although the Alliance has indicated that they would be seeking clearer warnings on the machines themselves. Therefore, we can only comment on the potential claim in a general sense.

Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Review of interactive gambling laws announced

By Thomas Zhong, DLA Piper (Brisbane)

The Australian Government has commissioned a review of Australia’s online gambling laws. The review will be led by Social Services Minister Scott Morrison and focus on the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth). The terms of reference for the review have not been finalised but the review will examine topics such as live-sports betting, the regulation of offshore gambling operations and the regulatory changes required, as prompted by technological advancements within the industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: comprehensive study considers the interplay between gambling and social media

A comprehensive study has been published by Gambling Research Australia (GRA) into the way the gambling industry used social media and the impact that has on the way their products are consumed. The study also considers in detail the interplay between casino-style social games and real-money gambling. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Racing Queensland Boards Abolished & Greyhound Racing Industry Report

By Thomas Zhong

The Queensland State government has announced a restructure of the racing industry in light of an inquiry into the greyhound racing industry. The Report published by inquiry commissioner Alan MacSporran was highly critical of the greyhound racing industry, noting that:

public confidence may have been dealt an almost terminal blow by the exposure of what is likely to have been a widespread practice of live baiting in the greyhound racing industry… the practice of live baiting could not be engaged in without the acquiescence of many, who although not directly involved, chose to ignore the cruelty and turned a blind eye.”

The key recommendation from the Report was the separation of commercial and integrity branches of the industry – allowing for one body to concentrate on the business (to maximise commercial success) and the other body to focus on ensuring integrity (with the prioritisation of animal welfare issues).

Other recommendations include:

  • a new statutory authority be created which is dedicated to ensuring the integrity of the Queensland racing industry.
  • an all codes board be established as the control body for all three codes of racing (Thoroughbred, Harness and Greyhound).
  • the tracking of Greyhounds from birth to leaving the racing industry.
  • increasing oversight over licensing requirements and compliance with the rules of racing.

The Queensland Inquiry is the first of three Inquiries announced by State Governments in Australia, with the New South Wales report due on 30 September 2015 and the Victorian report due imminently.

A copy of the Queensland Inquiry Report can be viewed here.

Australia: New Private Members Bill targeting poker machines tabled in Parliament

The Gambling Harm Reduction (Protecting Problem Gamblers and Other Measures) Bill 2014 was introduced to Parliament on 24 November 2014 by Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie. The Bill would provide a strict new regulatory framework for poker machines with the aim of reducing harm to problem gamblers.

The Bill features measures championed by the Productivity Commission such as capped jackpots, $1 maximum bets and mandatory pre-commitment.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the Bill.

Australia: Policy tensions crystallise in NSW Impact of Gambling report and former premier’s comments

On 14 August 2014, the New South Wales Legislative Council’s Select Committee on the Impact of Gambling presented its report to the New South Wales Government (available here). The report is the product of an extensive public inquiry by the Committee and contains 18 recommendations aimed at minimising the negative impacts of problem gambling. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Cautionary tales of commercial dealings and sovereign risk

Last Thursday, the Victorian Supreme Court delivered judgment in Tabcorp Holdings Limited v The State of Victoria [2014] VSC 301 and Tatts Group Limited v The State of Victoria [2014] VSC 302.

As we have previously discussed (here), these proceedings relate to the termination of the gaming machine duopoly held by Tabcorp Holdings Limited (Tabcorp) and Tatts Group Ltd (Tatts) and whether the State of Victoria is liable to make certain termination payments to the two companies. Read the rest of this entry »

New South Wales match fixing reform Bill

The NSW Government has introduced a draft Bill in to Parliament to combat match fixing in sport.
The Racing Administration Amendment (Sports Betting National Operational Model) Bill 2014 aims to provide a framework in NSW for betting agencies to enter into integrity agreements with sports controlling bodies which will outline the measures used to prevent, investigate and assist in the prosecution of any match fixing or other corrupt behaviour related to the betting on the sport event. The Bill is expected to bring betting on sports events in NSW in line with the national policy on match-fixing in sport. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Courtsiding and reform updates

In a number of our recent blog entries, we promised to keep you posted on a number of legislative changes and legal proceedings in Australia.

Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: ACCC proposes to object to betting agencies’ immunity for collective bargaining and collective boycott against the NRL

On 13 February 2014, the Australian Wagering Council Limited (AWC) lodged a collective bargaining and collective boycott notification (the Notifications) with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australia’s competition regulatory body. A business who lodges the Notifications will be granted immunity from legal action under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act) if they are not objected to within 14 days of lodgment. The AWC had lodged the Notifications on behalf of betting agencies Bet365, Centrebet, Betstar, IASBet.com, Sportingbet, Sportsbet, Tomwaterhouse.com, UNIBet, Betfair and Ladbrokes  (the Betting Agencies) in relation to their dealings with the NRL. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Supreme Court setting for gambling stoush

The civil trial between the State of Victoria and the former holders of gaming machine licences in the state, Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (Tabcorp) and Tatts Group Ltd (Tatts), has commenced in the Victorian Supreme Court before Justice Hargrave. Until the expiry of their licences in August 2012, the two companies held a duopoly over Victoria’s 27, 500 gaming machines located outside of Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Following the expiry of the licences, the entitlement to operate gaming machines was allocated to club and hotel venue operators. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Potential wagering model shake up in Queensland

Racing Queensland has announced that it is seeking Expressions of Interest from national and international wagering operators who are interested in bringing innovation to the “exciting world of wagering” associated with greyhound, harness and thoroughbred racing in Queensland. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Spectator charged for involvement in “courtsiding” at Australian Open

The Australian tennis open is the scene for what Victoria Police have claimed is the world’s first arrest for the sports betting offence of “courtsiding” with the charging of a British spectator under section 195C of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: South Australian Premier agrees to remove “Gambling starts with Games” advertisements

In its latest step to reduce the perceived harm that might be inflicted on children by simulated gambling, the South Australian Government has commenced an advertising campaign, featuring a billboard with an image of a young girl, holding an iPad while sitting at a poker table, surrounded by playing cards and poker chips. The billboard contains the headline “Gambling starts with Games”. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: ACT paves the way for TAB sale, while NSW establishes Select Committee on Gambling

Judith Miller and Jaimie Wolbers

In late November 2013, the ACT Minister for Racing and Gaming, Joy Burch, presented the Totalisator Bill 2013 (ACT) (Bill), which is set to repeal the existing Betting (ACTTAB Limited) Act 1964 (ACT) (Act).   The Bill seeks to create a framework to regulate the conduct and operation of totalisator systems and activities by invoking harm minimisation and consumer protection measures.   Read the rest of this entry »

Restored to the Notice Paper

Judith Miller and Jaimie Wolbers

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who was first elected to the Senate on the back of an anti-poker machine campaign, has accused the Coalition Government of being captive to vested interests in the pokies industry. Senator Xenaphon  is one of the sponsors (along with the Green’s Senator Richard Di Natale and the Democratic Labor Party’s Senator John Madigan) of the Poker Machine Harm Reduction ($1 Bets and Other Measures) Bill 2012 [2013] ($1 Bets Bill) which was restored to the Notice Paper. Debate on the $1 Bets Bill commenced in the Senate on 5 December 2012 but was adjourned.   During the debate, Senator Di Natale said:

I thought I would be standing up today and giving a speech to argue the case for $1 bet limits, but it seems that, on the back of the legislation introduced by the government to repeal the very modest reforms around poker machines introduced in the last parliament, we are not just fighting for what is the appropriate response to limiting harm from poker machines but fighting a rearguard action against some of the most modest reforms we have seen anywhere in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Gambling reforms scrapped by Coalition

In recent weeks, the Australian Coalition Government has continued to take steps to implement its “policy to help problem gamblers”, as previously discussed here. Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: ACCC raises concern over conduct in the mobile app industry

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has this week expressed the need for industry guidance to ensure greater consumer protection by the “app” games industry.

After conducting a “sweep” of 340 app games across the Google Play and Apple App Store platforms, the ACCC identified “the potential for misleading and deceptive conduct in the promotion of apps as well as inadequate disclosure of key terms and conditions associated with using the apps”.  Read the rest of this entry »

Australia: Simulated gambling in South Australia’s sights

Having passed the Statutes Amendment (Gambling Reform) Act 2013 (SA) (as we have previously discussed here), the South Australian Government has now set its sights on ensuring that South Australian children are not exposed to simulated gambling in the online environment. Premier Jay Wetherill has announced his Government’s new Children, Technology and Gambling policy which is designed to keep children safe from the “onslaught of gambling-like games that are readily available online and through social media“. Read the rest of this entry »

Victorian Gambling Regulation Amendment (Pre-Commitment) Bill 2013

Victoria is set to be the first state in Australia to introduce a pre-commitment system for gaming machines which will allow players to predetermine net loss and time limits. The Gambling Regulation Amendment (Pre-Commitment) Bill 2013 (Vic) contains the proposed scheme which will amend the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (Vic) to establish the pre-commitment system and require venue operators to ensure the system is installed and functioning at their gaming venue. If the bill is passed it will make pre-commitment systems for gaming machines mandatory in Victoria from 1 December 2015.  Similar federal legislation was passed at the end of 2012, however the earliest certain gaming venues will be required under the federal scheme to introduce the system is 2018.  Read the rest of this entry »

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