Understanding the Interactive Gambling Act 2001

Australia’s primary online gambling regulation is the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA). This law has been updated and added onto through the years as conditions have evolved. The IGA is intended to cover all modes of online gaming, whether a website accessed through a browser, or an application downloaded onto a mobile device.

As the main law covering online gambling, understanding the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 is essential for companies hoping to offer gaming services and gamblers alike. For licensed interactive gaming providers, maintaining compliance with the IGA requires vigilance, especially considering constantly evolving regulatory frameworks.

Interactive Gambling Act Applies to All Online Casinos

Various state and territorial bodies license and regulate gambling companies but the IGA applies to every casino aiming to do online business with Australians. In fact, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) maintains a register of all casinos licensed to offer interactive gambling anywhere within the Commonwealth.

These online wagering services are allowed to sign-up and stake players in Australia. Any online casino that is not licensed and on the ACMA register is offering illegal services. Likely, these companies will be banned and blocked from offering further online gambling. The IGA covers all the following types of gambling:

  • Online casinos, including pokies and table games.
  • Live, in-game sports betting.
  • Sportsbooks that lack an Australian betting license.
  • Betting on any lottery’s outcome.

Therefore, the IGA has broad authority to restrict all forms of online gambling throughout Australia.

2017 Update to Australian Online Gambling Laws

The Commonwealth government made a large update to the IGA in 2017 to address the proliferation of unlicensed so-called ‘offshore’ casinos and sportsbooks. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017 went above online gambling companies and created a code for how internet service providers (ISP) are to address interactive gambling services that run afoul of the country’s regulations.

All ISPs must provide their customers with the option to filter out all identified unlicensed or illegal gambling websites. Essentially, this filter blocks consumers from accessing illegal gambling content. By shifting responsibility for blocking gambling content from the companies themselves to the ISPs, the government makes it less likely customers can easily access offshore gambling services.

Other reforms in the 2017 amendment included restricting which gambling companies can offer their customers credit. With some exceptions, online casinos are prohibited from acting like a bank for their gamblers and are not allowed to allow wagers without funds on deposit.

The amendment also strengthened the legal bite for any company or individual who attempts to operate or advertise illegal gambling. In addition to criminal penalties, individuals can face monetary fines up to $1,665,000, while corporations can be fined up to $8,325,000.

Consumer Protection Measures and the Interactive Gambling Act 2001

In 2019, the Australian government updated the IGA to provide a national self-exclusion register for the first time. This register allows people who are struggling with problem gambling a simple method to prevent further online wagering. Once a person signs-up with the national self-exclusion register, all licensed interactive gambling companies must take steps to ensure they cannot access online wagering services.

Previously, self-exclusion registers were a hodgepodge of state and territorial lists or company by company. Now, someone having trouble controlling their gambling can simply register in one place and be blocked from all legal online gambling providers nationwide.

The self-exclusion register is not the only consumer protection used in coordination with the IGA. The Australian Department of Social Services created a National Consumer Protection

Framework for Online Wagering (NCPF) that is intended to apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth, regardless of state or territory. The NCPF contains ten consumer protection measures that are intended to reduce the harms from problem online gambling.

These measures are varied and include references to parts of the IGA and its subsequent updates, like the self-exclusion register and general prohibition from casinos extending credit to their online customers. However, the NCPF goes further, with requirements regarding easy account closure mechanisms and prohibitions on inducements. For example, online wagering services cannot use any rewards, benefits, or credits to convince players to sign-up for an account. The same framework also restricts casinos from making customers play promotional tokens or credits a certain number of times before being able to bank the amount.

Eventually, the NCPF intends to have all online casino and gambling companies use standard language regarding potential harms from wagering. Creating uniform language for the companies to use in advertising and marketing materials is intended to eliminate consumer confusion and clearly convey the downsides of problem gaming.

Another one of the NCPF’s provisions goes beyond the national self-exclusion register by requiring online casinos and sportsbooks to offer pre-gambling deposit limitations. Customers can pre-set their limits before engaging in any wagering. These limits cannot be instantaneously changed, which is supposed to give gamblers a cooling-off period before risking additional money.

All ten of the provisions in the NCPF are designed to work with the regulations contained in the original Interactive Gambling Act 2001. Combined with its subsequent updates, the IGA creates a restricted online gambling marketplace throughout the entire Commonwealth.

 

Ian Thompson

Poker Expert

A poker fanatic at heart, Ian is never too far away from the felt. He has been following the game since he was at college, and started writing for numerous online poker sites. The opportunity to have his on by-lines brought Ian to Gamble Online Australia, and we’re super happy to have his knowledge at our fingertips.
When he’s not writing about poker, Ian is honing his skills online, including his poker face! He hopes to one day win big at a WSOP event and meet his hero, Daniel Negreanu.

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