Clubs Australia says it will use the Productivity Commission’s now underway inquiry into gambling to call for local internet gambling companies to be subject to the same laws required of clubs, pubs and casinos that operate poker machines.
Standardising gambling laws would mean online operators would be banned from accepting bets placed with a credit card and offering gambling inducements such as $1,000 in free bets, would be required to have staff trained via an accredited responsible gambling course provider and would have to offer free problem gambling counselling.
Clubs Australia CEO David Costello said internet gambling is now so popular that Federal, State and Territory Governments must act to ensure it is subject to the same checks and balances that apply to poker machine operators.
“Clubs have worked tirelessly with Government to significantly reduce the level of problem gambling in the community. We are not prepared to sit back and watch this hard work be lost by a group of online cowboys who think responsible gambling is providing an email address to a counselling centre located in Los Angeles,” Mr Costello said.
“Internet betting is a multi-billion business in Australia. Centrebet recently boasted to its shareholders that turnover increased by 14% in 2008. It predicted turnover would increase by even more in 2009 despite the world financial crisis. However with the privilege of holding a gambling license comes responsibility. Inducing
people to gamble with a credit card with the promise of free bets is in my opinion an invitation to problem gambling,” he said.
Mr Costello pointed out that last year Centrebet printed a flyer offering free A League soccer tickets, with entry into the stadium through a Centrebet plastic card committing people to a $5 bet. “And if you go to the Centrebet website and click on Responsible Wagering, you will be directed to a website in Los Angeles which offers nothing more than an email address.”
“To those that question the danger of online gambling, they need look no further than recent studies showing more than 20% of online gamblers are problem gamblers. The rate of ‘regulated’ gambling on the other hand is less than 1% of the adult population,” he said.