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Further clampdown on online gambling, more power to ACMA

The proposed amendments to the Interactive Gambling Bill will see a strengthening of provisions against online gaming services, and give greater power to ACMA to enforce regulations, according to a report from Addisons.

Earlier this month, the federal government introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 into federal parliament, which is said to be debated this week.

According to a report from Jamie Nettleton from the Sydney-based law firm, the IGA Amendment Bill will set a clear distinction between “regulated interactive gambling services” and “prohibited interactive gambling services”.

“The key distinction between these categories of services is that no party is permitted to provide to persons present in Australia a prohibited interactive gambling service, while regulated interactive gambling services can be provided, but only by licensed Australian operators under the terms of their licence,” said Addisons.

Previously, services that fell into the category of regulated interactive gambling service were exempt from becoming a "prohibited interactive gambling service".

The new distinction will ensure that only those exempt services, which are regulated interactive gambling services will be allowed to operate in the country.

The bill will also make any person who provides a prohibited interactive gambling service to Australians liable for both a criminal offence and a civil penalty.

Other amendments to the Bill include a strengthening of the enforcement tools used by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The proposed changes include a stricter civil penalty regime, giving ACMA more enforcement tools, as well as establishing a framework for complaints about the provision and advertising of any unlicensed or prohibited interactive gambling services.

“The IGA Amendment Bill reflects the federal government's objective that the provisions of the IGA regarding illegal offshore gambling be clarified and that greater powers be given to the federal regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA), to enforce these provisions.”

“The effect of these amendments is to make it clear to any offshore online gaming operator that it is not legal under Australian law to provide those services to persons present in Australia. This will be emphasised by the “name and shame” policies to be pursued by the ACMA… [and] significant penalties that may be imposed,” said Addisons.

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