Media Release by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Coalition Government tackles illegal offshore wagering

Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison today announced a review of illegal offshore wagering, delivering on the Coalition Government’s election commitment to investigate methods of strengthening enforcement and ensuring Australians are protected from illegal online wagering operators.

“According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) online gambling is a $1.6 billion dollar business in Australia with sixty percent of this revenue going offshore to more than 2,000 sites beyond the reach of our regulators and tax collectors,” Minister Morrison said.

“Unlike Australia’s licensed operators, overseas agencies don’t contribute product fees to racing and sporting bodies, do not comply with Australia’s legal system and are not obligated to monitor and report suspicious betting activity.

“Illegal offshore wagering also leaves Australian punters without protection for payouts on their winnings.

“It is critical that we undertake a serious review of the impact of these illegal offshore operations on Australian consumers as well as our racing and sports industries and identify ways in which we can work to curb these impacts. It is especially important we look at what can be done to protect individuals vulnerable to problem gambling.

“AIFS studies show that problem gambling rates among interactive gamblers have been assessed at three times higher than for non-interactive gamblers.

“More than 400,000 Australians, mainly men, have gambling problems. These issues can affect hundreds of thousands of Australian families and the children growing up in them.

“Problem gambling can also have a significant impact on social services and welfare spending such as income support payments, financial counselling and measures to address domestic violence.

“These are not arguments for banning interactive gambling but cases for common sense to drive the development of more effective measures to negate, wherever possible, the adverse social and economic impacts of these new and growing forms of gambling.

“The review will be conducted by former New South Wales Premier, the Hon. Barry O’Farrell who will bring significant experience to the role.

“I have deliberately left the terms of reference broad to ensure former Premier O’Farrell can look at everything he needs to, with no preconceived notions,” Minister Morrison said.

Consultations with representatives from the racing industry, professional sports and wagering organisations, state and territory governments, and community groups will commence in coming weeks. There will also be a call for public submissions.

The review’s final recommendations are expected to be provided to government by 18 December 2015. Further details on the review, including the terms of reference, will be available on the Department of Social Services website.