Senate debates

Monday, 20 June 2011


Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011; Second Reading

3:36 pm

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.

Leave granted.

I table the explanatory memorandum and I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011

The world of online gambling poses serious, and in many ways, unique, threats to Australian consumers.

My good friend Tim Costello said it best when he said that with online gambling you can lose your house without ever leaving it.

And he said that back in the days when computers were usually only found on desk tops.

Now, thanks to smart phones, adults and children can access gambling sites anywhere, any time.

That's why you see footy fans pulling out their phones at quarter time placing an online bet after the odds have been flashed up on the scoreboard at the MCG.

Smart phones allow problem gamblers to do dumb things with ruthless speed and efficiency.

Our attempts to outlaw online gambling have failed.

Overseas operators have used generous loopholes to push their products here in Australia, and this Bill seeks to close those loopholes.

The first thing this Bill does is prohibits corporations from offering spot betting, exotic betting, in play betting or similar forms of betting.

Exotic betting is an invitation to corruption by individuals or a small group of players.

To rig an outcome of a footy match, you need the consent of a majority of a team, but to ensure a player only kicks points in a match and no goals or is the first to score a penalty or the first to be issued with a yellow card, only requires the consent of one player.

By prohibiting these forms of betting we will reduce the likelihood of players rigging certain outcomes in a game.

This Bill will also make it possible for a gambler to cancel a transaction with an illegal overseas gambling company, so long as the transaction has not been completed.

What this means is that a player, if he or she gambles on an overseas gambling website and loses money on their credit card will be able to suspend or cancel that transaction.

The big challenge in the past was stopping overseas sites from offering services to Australia online.

The Australian Government could not effect­ively enforce a ban on those sites.

This Bill will most likely lead the sites to ban Australian gamblers, because they know if they lose they won't pay up.

The Bill also makes it illegal to offer an inducement to gamble.

Inducements are a way to lure people to gambling. It sucks them in with the offer of free games to "practice your online poker skills" or it could be free credits.

This Bill also prohibits the advertising of betting venues and online gambling sites during all G classified programs and sports or sports related programs.

It also bans the broadcasting of odds where there is a commercial arrangement between the licensee or agent or the licensee (presenter) to provide betting odds.

Finally, the Bill provides a maximum 10 year sentence and significant fines for anyone involved in any form of match-fixing.

This applies to players and non-players, and will make it easier for law enforcement officials to punish those involved in match-fixing.

I note that such reforms have been supported by The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) who made three major recommendations to the Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib; that sports-specific national legislation be introduced which carries severe penalties for cheating in connection with betting, that sports be able to veto exotic, or spot bets that they think are at risk of corruption and that Victoria's sports betting act is adopted across all states and territories, meaning all betting agencies must have integrity agreements with sports.

Indeed, sporting codes themselves have begun to move towards eliminating spot betting and reducing the chance for corruption in sport.

The NRL has recently banned some exotic betting options offered by bookmakers following a match-fixing scandal in the sport in 2010, where there was a massive plunge on a penalty goal being the first scoring play in a Canterbury-North Queensland match.

The AFL has also banned exotic betting such as the last goal in a game and does not allow wagers on decisions such as tribunal verdicts and the first coach to be sacked.

Throughout the debate on poker machine reform I heard from a number of Coalition members that any sensible increase in player protections would lead to an increase of people gambling online.

Despite the fact that overseas experience has shown that isn't the case, I would say to all of my parliamentary colleagues, now is the chance to do something about online gambling if you are genuinely concerned about it.

Australians deserve these sensible protections when it comes to interactive gambling and I call on the Senate to support this Bill.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.