Australian Gambling Market in the News — Weekly Round-up for December 01, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Feb 14, 2018

Aussie Provincial Government Passes New Online Gambling Tax Law

Queensland emulates South Australia in introducing 15 percent point-of-consumption legislation

The provincial government in Queensland has announced the introduction of a new 16 percent point-of-consumption tax aimed at online gambling companies accepting bets from its residents.

In so doing Queensland emulates a similar tax introduced earlier this year by the South Australian government, with other Australian provinces indicating that they will follow.

The Northern Territory, where many online gambling companies are licensed due to its reasonable fees and taxes, is likely to be impacted by the move to p.o.c. taxation, which will affect the bottom lines of major operators like Crownbet, Ladbrokes and Bet365, and “synthetic” online lottery agencies such as Lottoland.

Speaking to local media, Northern Territory deputy chief minister and treasurer Nicole Manison said that protecting the online betting industry in the Northern Territory and its hundreds of jobs is a top priority, and expressed concern that the impact of the p.o.c. tax may be felt in several important sponsored sports events.

She revealed that she has discussed the issue with federal government treasurer Scott Morrison regarding the possibility of a federal point-of-consumption tax rather than individual states taking the tax revenue.

This is the best course of action, she opined, to save the industry and NT jobs. A federal point-of-consumption tax would address some of the territorial inequities by providing a nationally consistent approach and be the best possible outcome for the Territory, she said.

The Queensland government says the new tax, which is expected to grab A$90 million over three years, is all about levelling the playing field and ensuring fair competition.

Australian Regulator Gives Opinion On Loot Boxes (Update)

ACMA says loot boxes are not gambling in terms of Aussie laws…but it is monitoring developments

Confused by conflicting Australian provincial opinions on whether loot boxes in video games constitute gambling (Queensland says not, Victoria says it is) the media approached the federal regulator Australian Communications Media Authority this week for an opinion.

The ACMA not only regulates and oversees advertising on the internet, radio, and broadcast TV in Australia, it is also responsible for enforcing the Interactive Gambling Act, perhaps making it the best arbiter of legality or otherwise on an issue that has been making international waves for the past two weeks.

The ACMA media team responded to the enquiry by advising:

“In general, online video games, including games that involve ‘loot box’ features, have not been regarded as ‘gambling services’ under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, because they are not ‘played for money or anything else of value’. That is, the game is not played with the object of winning money or other valuable items.

“However, the ACMA is monitoring the use of loot boxes and the use of other similar in-game mechanics that have gambling-like characteristics.”

Australia’s Telco Regulator Is Keeping An Eye On Loot Boxes

Another Suitor For Crownbet (Update)

Paddy Power Betfair reportedly also interested in a merge

Friday morning’s Australian media reports that William Hill and Crown Resorts are exploring a possible partnership in CrownBet (see previous InfoPowa report) has been followed by a Reuters alert that Paddy Power Betfair is also interested in expanding further in Australia and has held seperate talks with Crown Resorts.

Reuters cited two anonymous sources close to the Paddy Power-Crown talks.

In addition to its 62 percent majority holding in CrownBet, Crown Resorts also wholly-owns Betfair Australasia and 70 percent of DGN Games, an online social gaming business based in Austin, Texas.

CrownBet’s ambition is to be the “dominant wagering operator in the Australian landscape by 2020”, but is currently only licensed in Australia’s Northern Territory.

A group of investors headed by CrownBet’s founder and current Chief Executive Matt Tripp owns the other part of the business not owned by Crown Resorts.

In the last financial report released by Crown Resorts, the company said its overall wagering and online social gaming unit that contains CrownBet and the other investments in the sector generated annual EBITDA of A$14.8 million, turning from a A$5.4 million loss the year before.

CrownBet is building its business by leveraging its relationship with its portfolio of integrated resorts, as well as partnering the likes of the AFL, ClubsNSW, Draftstars and The company is additionally focused on developing proprietary technology.

William Hill’s Australian interests embrace Centrebet and Sportingbet, along with bookmaking. The Australian division is in the process of rebranding to William Hill Australia and has almost 250,000 registered active players (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Aussie operations contribute around 7 percent of William Hill overall revenues.

Consolidation among Australian gambling firms has been expected ever since lottery owner Tatts Group agreed to a A$4.7 billion takeover by horse race betting giant Tabcorp Holding last year to create a gambling giant.

Paddy Power Betfair has thus far not commented on the Reuters report that it has also held talks with Crown regarding CrownBet.

Name And Shame Warning For Online Gambling Operators

Aussie provincial government leader makes some disturbing allegations

John Rau, deputy premier and attorney General for the South Australian provincial government, made some startling if unsubstantiated allegations against online gambling operators in the provincial parliament this week, threatening to name and shame non-compliant operators, and calling for a crackdown on advertising and cold calling that allegedly targets minors.

Rau wants operators to obtain ID verification and proof of age before allowing punters to gamble, saying that It should be just as hard to establish a betting account as it is to establish a bank account.

“A person can easily open an account with online gambling services without verification of their age or other relevant details,” he said. “Under current rules providers can have up to 90 days to verify a person’s identity. This may obviously not occur before a lot of money has been wagered.”

Rau wants to see increased enforcement on advertising or “cold calling” to minors or people who are barred from gaming in licensed venues because of addiction.

He told parliament that he had received “disturbing” reports of online gambling providers “sending unsolicited advertisements to children and, I believe, to other vulnerable people to encourage them to open an account and to participate in online gambling”.

“We have unsolicited bait advertising, cold canvassing and no proof of age or identity being required to commence betting. Imagine if this were the case with tobacco or alcohol,” he said.

Rau urged anyone who had been targeted by an online gaming company in breach of the rules to report it, pledging:

“I will be publicly outing any operators who are identified.”

A review of the state’s gambling sector, undertaken by former judge Tim Anderson, has been delivered to the State Government but is yet to be made public, according to local media reports. Thus far the provincial government has not committed to any of the changes recommended by the judge, a situation that Rau said was due to changes also being considered by the federal government.

Tabcorp Buys Off Crownbet Opposition To Merger With Tatts (Update)

The price is digitally streamed racing content

Australian gambling group Tabcorp has bought off CrownBet’s opposition to its merger plans with Tatts by agreeing to supply a digital stream of SKY1 and SKY2 racing content for the personal use of CrownBet’s Australian wagering customers.

The agreement also carries an annual fee payable by CrownBet that has not been disclosed.

In a company statement Thursday, Tabcorp advised:

* Settlement of the proceedings commenced by CrownBet in the Supreme Court of NSW in relation to the legal status of their proposed arrangements with clubs in NSW;

* Supply of digital racing vision to CrownBet’s customers;

* CrownBet has agreed not to apply for judicial review of the Australian Competition Tribunal’s decision on 22 November 2017 to grant authorisation for the Tatts merger.

CrownBet has also agreed not to take any action which would impede the implementation of the transaction.

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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