About a month after gamblers in Australia learned that ‘legal’ online casinos and poker rooms were to become a thing of the past, the sports betting industry is facing its own tough odds in recruiting new players. State and Federal ministers have reportedly reached agreement on banning some incentives used to attract new punters.
Players can no longer get free bets for introducing their friends to a betting site, and new bettors can no longer receive certain free bonuses. The move is said to be an effort to curb problem gambling in the country, known for its voracious appetite for betting on all things.
Winnings from bonus bets must be paid out without string attached as well, according to a report in the Herald Sun online newspaper which also noted that rather than opting out of offers, punters will have to opt in.
In April, ministers agreed to sweeping reforms including a national self-exclusion registry, the prohibition of credit lines provided by bookies, and implementing a scheme wherein gamblers would receive “activity statements” so they could better track their spending. The measures fall under what are known as responsible gambling guidelines already in place in other jurisdictions such as the UK. Friday’s meeting of the ministers saw them agree on timelines and rules for most of the measures introduced earlier.
The line of credit measure was included in last month’s Internet Gambling Amendment Bill that takes effect today. The law effectively bans all online casinos and poker rooms in the country by insisting all providers are licensed in Australia while no state or territory is willing to issue the licenses. Players are not affected in a legal sense, but operators could face fines of $5 million per day for violations. No publicly traded companies remain in the Australian poker or online casino markets.
Speaking of the inducements and limits agreed most recently, Federal Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, said they were contrived so that people “aren’t encouraged to spend more money when they may already be in trouble”. He added, “Many Australians enjoy a punt, but we want to ensure there are reasonable protections in place and that individuals have greater control over their gambling expenditure.”