Australia vs The UK gambling regulations

In the ever-growing online gambling industry, the UK has positioned itself as a leader in the market in many ways. In a nutshell, the UK is dominating the industry, with lotteries, online pokies, and strict regulations to protect players. However, Australia is not far behind with a billion-dollar growing online gambling industry and an international reach that has somewhat been crippled thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The country has some of the most active gamblers in the world, with over 80% of Aussie adults involved in some sort of gambling. This growth is why Australia has become a hotbed for unregulated and unlicensed websites being created almost every month. These sites hope to cash in on the naivety of older Aussie gamblers. Australian regulators need to make more of an effort to protect gamblers and legitimate online casino operators. We can see similarities in the UK and Australia gambling industries, however, the biggest difference is in regulations.

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A Well-Organized Industry

The UK’s success in the online gambling marketplace isn’t one that happened overnight. The country has become a hub for casino operators where the focus is on gaming software development, business strategies, and new tech adaptation. The UK saw the profitability of the industry and moved to regulate it and make it something any gambler would be proud to be a part of.

On the other hand, Australia despite its fast-growing online gambling users and billions of dollars in revenue annually. The Australian government has strayed away from any kind of regulations or even tried to adapt the sites properly for its citizens.

 

A Year in Review

The UK Gambling Commission(UKGC) has become one of the most recognized licensing authorities and known for its strict regulations and monitoring of online casinos under their jurisdiction.

In 2020, the UKGC increased fines issued to operators in comparison with 2018-2019. The commission is sending a message to all casino operators that they shouldn’t be looking to take advantage of players. Especially during the coronavirus lockdown. Some hefty fines have been levied to the tune of £30m.

UKGC’s CEO Neil McArthur sent a warning to operators saying “ stricter measures would be taken to protect consumers throughout the coronavirus lockdown”. These stricter measures were enacted immediately after the first lockdown was in effect. Some operators have condemned the action of the regulatory body, calling their tactics too harsh. However, UKGC reiterates that it’s here to protect consumers and not the interest of casino operators. The UKGC sees the penalties as fair punishment. Just last year, UKGC fined 3 online casinos $13,663,663. These fines were mostly for offenses such as money laundering or tax evasion.

The UKGC uses the fines to provide funding to charities and organizations that work with vulnerable or addicted players.

On the other hand, Australia has continuously passed regulations that outright ban some sort of online casino in its country. However, with the advancement in technologies Aussie players can easily play at offshore online casinos who are based in countries with looser online gambling laws

This puts Australia in a very bad spot as the country continues to lose a huge chunk of the online gambling revenue to offshore operators who have no interest in paying taxes in Australia.

 

Left In Obscurity

The Australian online gambling market has struggled to pass any kind of meaningful regulation that aims to protect consumers. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 is mostly targeted at land-based casinos. Making it illegal for local and off-shore casino operators to host some forms of online gambling for Aussies. However, the government must have underestimated the power of money as the operators. Especially the off-shore ones who completely ignore this law or find ways to go undetected.

Even when detected, there is the problem of enforcing the Act as the Australian government does not have the funds or the manpower to waste trying to chase after every casino operator. If the government manages to shut a site down, the casino operators just end up making a new one and continue from where they left off. This inability to regulate the casino operators leaves Australian gamblers with the daunting task of finding out which sites are legitimate.

Letting consumers decide for themselves where to play in an overcrowded industry of bad-faith operators doesn’t seem like the best idea. Also, most gamblers aren’t prepared or even know how to go after an online casino operator if something goes wrong. These sites will continue to operate and make a lot of money doing it unless the government goes out of its way to pass new laws that guarantee some enforcement.

If the government wants to ban all online casinos outright or not. It is important that consumers in the online gambling industry are vulnerable. Leaving consumers to make decisions on where to play might lead to many future disasters.

 

How Does Australia Solve This Modern Problem

Well, a modern problem requires a modern solution. Australia has to take a look at countries such as the UK and the USA. They have both taken different roads in tackling their online gambling market and it seemed to have worked for them. The USA has repealed older laws that prohibited gambling of any sort. It also allows legislation and regulation to take place on the state level. This allows each state to have its own sets of rules and laws by which an online casino must abide. However, a state also has the right to outright ban all online casinos, if they want to.

American states are moving very quickly to establish regulations. Before the market floods with online casinos making it harder for the industry to be regulated.

We hope that the Australian government will learn from one of these countries and regulate its  online gambling market. Not only to protect consumers but also to set a precedent for new online casinos looking to target Australian consumers. The revenue from the industry could also serve as a boost to the Australian economy.

Australia vs The UK gambling regulations
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