Statutes Amendment and Repeal (Budget Measures) Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading (resumed on motion).

It is in these circumstances where there is no supervision or trained responsible persons to intervene, unlike the hotel and club industry. Put simply, you can lose your house while gaming from your lounge room. A number of reviews have been undertaken in this space. In September 2015, the commonwealth's Barry O'Farrell review found that online gambling is the fastest growing gambling segment, growing at 15 per cent per annum with over $1.4 billion gambled online each year.

In South Australia, the Independent Gambling Authority, which is to be dissolved under this bill, recently undertook work and an inquiry into online gaming. The authority recently called for submissions and conducted a public hearing around the growth and impact of online gambling in South Australia. This inquiry involved public hearings with a limited number of attendees. It is expected that this consultation will be used to develop new strategies for reducing the incidence of problem gambling and harm caused by gambling.

Whilst I do not believe that the result of this consultation attracted a very significant number of submissions, the work undertaken will continue to be used by the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner should he take over the IGA's role with the passing of this bill. Notwithstanding the comments of the member for Lee yesterday, I am advised the IGA will complete this inquiry prior to the changing of the regulatory model; that is, the passage of this bill which will still take some time has allowed the continuation of the work of the IGA. I thank Mr Alan Moss and those board members who are still there for their continued work, noting that two have resigned in recent months.

So we must remember that online gambling is a huge national issue. Gaming providers operate across the borders, not just in South Australia, and to this regard I entirely agree with some of the member for Lee's observations which he recorded in the parliament yesterday as to the need to be across this issue. He was critical at the time of the slow advance of a term of reference before the Economic and Finance Committee, which the member for Waite chairs, relating to online gambling.

But I make this point: he may wish to progress some further investigation in a committee of the parliament and, if the committee of the parliament feel that this is an area of interest or priority, of course they can do that. In fact, we did it a few years ago here in the parliament and I would commend the committee to have a look at it because they also flagged issues in relation to online gambling when there was a select committee investigating gambling in South Australia.

In any event, I want to reassure the house that, notwithstanding that and notwithstanding that there is a new and evolving industry or subset of industry in relation to online gambling, we are aware of the need for further regulation. Can I therefore bring to the attention of the house that at the commonwealth level, as I have indicated, the Barry O'Farrell review took place. They were asked to advise on how to tackle illegal offshore wagering.

The commonwealth government was concerned that illegal offshore wagering presents a serious risk to Australia, including through the lack of legal and standard consumer protections for Australians using online wagering sites. As part of the Australian government's response to the O'Farrell review, the Australian government reached in-principle agreement with state and territory ministers to introduce broad reforms to provide stronger consumer protection measures to prevent harm caused by online gambling through the adoption of a National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF).

I am advised that a third meeting of state and territory ministers took place in September 2017 under the former government. Ministers, including our minister from South Australia, reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring greater protection for Australians gambling online and the establishment of strong, consistent and best practice NCPF. I am not sure what the former attorney-general did in the next six months before the election—it probably had a bit to do with getting re-elected. Nevertheless, there does not appear to be any evidence of urgency on the part of the former government. There were no other announcements or initiatives undertaken I am aware of that would suggest that he was in a hurry to deal with this matter. Nevertheless, obviously we want to get it right.

Subject to the finalisation of the detail of these measures and each jurisdiction's formal approval process, let me remind the house that ministers agreed to adopt the following measures:

the establishment of a centralised national self-exclusion register to allow a person to exclude themselves from all gambling sites across all phone and web-based digital platforms;

the implementation of a voluntary opt-out precommitment scheme to allow customers to set precommitment betting limits at account sign-up and options to review such limits at regular intervals;

the offering of inducements to be consistent with existing responsible gambling requirements;

to mandate the provision of customer activity statements on demand and on a regular basis;

nationally consistent gambling messaging;

mandatory responsible gambling training for all staff who are involved in the provision of online wagering services;

reducing the current 90-day customer verification time frame to a maximum of 14 days (noting that ministers agreed that a 72-hour customer verification time frame is preferable, the Australian government will explore the feasibility of this within 12 months of implementation); and

the inclusion of a simplified customer-initiated account closure mechanism to be enshrined within the NCPF.

Since 2017, as I have indicated, the six months under the former government, there seems to have been zero movement in respect of online gambling. I was pleased to meet with the chair of the IGA, Mr Alan Moss, upon coming into government and noted his commitment—it was fairly early at that stage—to an inquiry of his authority into online gambling. We are now moving on a national harmonisation and taking an active approach on the review from the former government.

We have a situation where a review was undertaken and reported back to the government in 2016. Since that time, it took a change in government to look at the report and begin progressing the conclusions Mr Anderson made in it. The first actions we have taken are around the IGA and forming a better regulatory framework for gaming in South Australia. This is the first step and will begin assisting with the harm caused by online gaming.

Our next step with the commissioner is to review the entire legislative framework of gambling in South Australia. As we have seen in the amendments before us, there are many acts relating to gaming. In streamlining these, the other conclusions of Mr Anderson's report can also be considered and implemented if appropriate. I particularly note the role that SAPOL has played here and the submissions they made to Mr Anderson's review.

The police have submitted that they require additional powers to investigate money laundering frauds, particularly within the sports betting and online gambling space. We intend to take a cross-agency approach to develop strategies and responses to assist with problem gambling, particularly in the online space, where people simply do not have the same protection and support they may have in hotels, clubs and at the Casino.

The general thrust of the national reform is in recognition of online opportunities and obligations we now have in national law in respect of the registration requirements in relation to gaming options that are available. This is why we have a situation where some of these are accessible: because they have been allowed to have an address, say, in the Northern Territory, and people access them once they are registered.

There are offences in relation to breaches of the regulatory regime that are set up in respect of overseas trading in Australia without compliance. This is really an early start to a much bigger issue. Certainly from my perspective, I have nothing against gambling directly, but I will say that this: it is absolutely important that we protect the vulnerable and that ever-growing cohort of youth—and I include people under 40 in that cohort.