Saturday, June 15, 2024

Victoria operators face new online gambling account measures

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Australia’s Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has confirmed changes to rules regarding online gambling accounts, including how players view their spending and losses.

The new requirements came into effect on 1 April. Victoria-licensed operators must now ensure their systems meet the standards set by the VGCCC.

These changes focus on how certain information is displayed to players within their online gambling accounts. This includes information on spending, with their net loss now excluding free and bonus bets.

Net wins, the Victoria regulator said, will also now be more accurate. Consumers’ monthly statements will subtract all stakes from their total payout amount.

Licensees must use plain English, avoid unnecessary jargon and limit the use of colours to black and red to clearly show losses. In addition, gambling harm messaging should feature on each monthly statement.

Operators that fail to comply with the measures could attract 60 penalty units. The VGCCC said this is equivalent to AU$11,539 (£6,025/€7,033/US$7,645) for each non-compliant activity statement issued. 

“The days of inconsistent player activity statements are over,” VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt said. “Wagering account holders will be better informed about their spending. Therefore, they are better equipped to make informed decisions about their gambling, thanks to the clarity and fairness these changes bring.”

Extra time for operators to prepare

The changes are not a new concept, with proposals having been discussed 18 months ago. National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) activity statement requirements began in November 2022.

The Victoria regulator undertook a review of monthly activity statements being produced by 12 wagering service providers. Soon after, it issued an Activity Statement Expectations Guide with an updated statement prototype.

After reviewing feedback from this study, the VGCCC worked with licensed providers to provide further clarifications. It eventually settled on the new measures and communicated these to operators. 

These were originally due to come into effect from 1 December 2023. However, the VGCCC granted extensions to 31 March 2024 for Tabcorp, Entain and Betfair to enable sufficient time for system changes.

Victoria working to protect players

This is by no means the first step the Victoria regulator has taken to better protect players from gambling harm. The VGCCC has stepped up its efforts to clamp down on operators breaching rules related to responsible gambling.

This month, MintBet was fined AU$150,000 for repeated breaches of responsible gambling rules in the Australian state.

The VGCCC has also targeted the land-based sector as part of this effort. In January, Tabcorp was ordered to make most of its electronic betting terminals cashless following multiple incidents of underage gambling.

Crown keeps hold of Victoria licence

Also in the land-based market, the VGCCC recently deemed Crown Resorts suitable to hold a licence. The decision means Crown can continue operating its Melbourne property.

This followed major changes at the casino in the wake of the Royal Commission into casino licences. The VGCCC was scathing in its criticism of what it deemed “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” behaviour.

Having taken into account such efforts, the operator will hold on to its licence. The Victoria regulator added it is in the “public interest” Crown retains the licence, with Crown Melbourne the largest single-site employer in the state. 

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