Today, the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Anne Ruston made public the final report of the National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering (National Framework) baseline study.
A Look at Australia’s Online Gambling
The study aims to bring the attention to the extent of online gambling participation, the level of risky gaming behaviour and the magnitude of gambling-related harm.
The study also investigates the consumer drive behind online wagering, as well as the self-management and self-control measures that users undertake. Furthermore, the report puts the focus on the existing consumer protection policies and the jurisdictional consistency in describing the responsible provision of online wagering. An important point is also the compliance among service providers and regulators and any possible opportunities or challenges.
Over 5,000 online wagers engaged in the online consumer survey, which is part of the independent study carried out by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The study also includes a review of online gambling operators and waging regulators’ websites, as well as discussions with online gambling service providers and regulators.
The Study Shows 52% of Participants at Risk
The study makes it clear that 52 per cent of the participants are in danger of or are already suffering gambling-related harm. The conclusions confirm that the Australian Government is on the right path to implement the measures part of the National Framework, to improve consumer protection practices and to remain up-to-date with the rapidly changing digital industry.
The study also includes a review of online gambling operators and waging regulators’ websites, as well as discussions with online gambling service providers and regulators.
As recommended in the study, we will continue to work with all governments to better communicate the National Framework and work with stakeholders to implement the remaining measures including the National Self-Exclusion Register.
The sample of 5,076 adults who wagered online in Australia in the past years finds out that the most common online gambling activities are horse racing (75%), sports (53%) and greyhound racing (32%). The respondents placed their bets via smartphones or computers and spent an average of $50-$100 per day. Consumers report that their main incentive was entertainment. The harms reported varied between reduction of available funds (24%), decrease in savings (22%), post-gambling regrets (18%), and diminished recreational time (15%).
Of Useful Policies and Real Effect
The existing protection policies, such as regular financial statements, clear information about terms and conditions, deposit limits and spend limits, are being described as “useful”. However, many consumers did not perceive themselves as suffering negative wagering consequences and did not feel that the measures were aimed at them.
The study recommends that the government continues its work towards harmonisation of minimum online wagering regulations, reconciliation of cross-border issues, and supervision of regulatory breaches. The government is also encouraged to achieve greater transparency and improve the communication between regulators. Currently, there is no singe regulator or authority responsible for gambling activities in Australia. Among other things, the study also asks for the national self-exclusion gambling register as a priority.