Suicide Prevention Australia has responded to the Federal Government’s review of online gambling, saying that “stricter regulation of the gambling sector is required across all Australian states.”
The Australian government has appointed a ‘Senate Standing Committee’ to study and prepare proposed federal amendments to overhaul the 2001 ‘Interactive Gambling Act.’
The committee has decided to propose an absolute ban on credit card purchases in all online gaming verticals, which would be implemented by the Australian Communications and Media Authority as a Commonwealth regulation (ACMA).
Although Suicide Prevention Australia supports the legislation, the organisation has urged the government to impose tighter regulations and consumer rights for online gambling.
Suicide Prevention Australia has responded to the committee by recommending that the following federal steps be taken:
- The requirement for all online gambling companies to conduct customer financial risk assessments
- A ban on all gambling advertisements and customer incentives to gamble
- The overhaul of data privacy regulation, to prohibit companies from sharing or selling client contact data amongst the industry
Financial Counselling Australia, which had engaged in lived experience roundtables exploring problem gambling’s ties to suicide, had analysed Suicide Prevention Australia’s guidelines, according to the organisation.
Suicide Prevention Australia was astounded to learn that “gambling companies were not required to conduct any form of financial risk assessment prior to customers opening new accounts” when it came to consumer safeguards.
Risk assessment enforcements were identified as a critical market protection for Australian online gambling that needed to be addressed immediately.
Suicide Prevention Australia’s policy roundtables expressed concern about the normalisation of gambling in Australian culture as a result of gambling ads, highlighting the need for a “gambling advertising ban.”
Suicide Prevention Australia’s main concern was that “betting companies sharing client data amongst each other” was a trend that should be banned immediately.
According to the organisation: “The issue of data sharing and incentives has a significant impact on Australians who gamble as problem gamblers are being actively incentivised to resume their problematic behaviours, which can extend to resuming other forms of gambling.”
Further responses to Australia’s Commonwealth study of online gaming, in which civic and public health stakeholders urged the government to take a more active role in how the industry is regulated, have prompted the recommendations.