Online gambling operators in South Australia may no longer be able to offer unsolicited credits to their customers there.
Regulatory changes proposed by the state’s Independent Gambling Authority (IGA) to the South Australian Gambling Code of Practice include, the immediate processing of withdrawals from gaming accounts and full disclosure of the “spotter’s fees,” and only after a thorough due diligence process should credit be offered. Any operator who does not act in accordance with the code faces fines of up to $100,000.
Within South Australia’s borders 19 licensed online gambling companies service 74,000 registered betting accounts. A Financial Counselling Australia report published in August prompted the proposed regulatory changes, according to Gail Gago, Minister for Business Services and Consumers. The report stated that questionable practices were being engaged in by online betting agencies concerning offering customers’ credit.
In a statement (.PDF) Gago said, “In some cases, account holders are offering credit ranging from $200 to the tens of thousands with no consideration given to the person’s circumstances, their capacity to repay or their well-being.” Gago said that the somewhat questionable practices include contact of account holders by service agents that are employed specifically to encourage them to choose from a variety of products offered by a particular operator, including unsolicited credits.
Online gambling operators have been given 28 days by the IGA to comment on the changes, and once approved the proposed regulatory changes could be effective as soon as the beginning of the New Year.
According to the Director of the IGA, Robert Chappell, the changes made to the Gambling Code of Practice are the result of a balanced response to the findings that are outlined in the report. Chappell added, “The practices that have been documented are very seductive and some of the things that have been revealed in the report and other forums that we’ve recently been to suggest the courting and the grooming of wagering account holders is quite pernicious.” Chappell added that the problem is not something people like talking about and that it is one that is very much hidden.