This speech to the Queensland Parliament was made in support of the Interactive Gambling (Player Protection) Bill 1998 on March 5th 1998 by the Deputy Premier, Treasurer, Minister for The Arts and Minister responsible for women's affairs, The Honourable Joan Sheldon MLA.
Interactive Gambling (Player Protection) Bill 1998
Mr Speaker, I now move that this Bill be read a second time.
This is a very significant piece of legislation dealing with a complex
and rapidly evolving issue. For the first time in Australia all
gambling accessible in private residences via telecommunications will be
subject to specific Government regulation. Moreover, Australia is the
first nation to seriously address the fact that Internet gambling is
already occurring in an unregulated manner throughout the world. The
Interactive Gambling (Player Protection) Bill has been developed as a
means to protect consumers participating in games offered through the
Internet and other such forms of interactive gambling.
This Bill has been developed in recognition of the incredible pace of
technological innovation in today’s society and, in particular, the rise
in access and use of the Internet. This has meant that governments can
no longer avoid the issue of regulating interactive gambling. The
Queensland Government has acknowledged that the issues surrounding
Internet and interactive gambling will not disappear and require
addressing in a responsible manner. The proposed Bill is an
acknowledgement by the Queensland Government of this responsibility.
The Queensland Government has recognised that this is an enormous
challenge. However, it is one that cannot be ignored simply because it
The range of interactive gambling products seems to be practically
infinite. For example, there are already a number of "virtual" casinos
and lotteries currently available on the Internet, sourced in countries
as widely dispersed as Liechtenstein and Antigua. These sites are
currently available to almost anyone with Internet access throughout the
Despite the rise of new technologies which have facilitated these forms
of gambling, it should also be remembered that interactive gambling is
not a totally new concept. Queenslanders were first given the
opportunity to gamble utilising interactive technology in 1962 with the
introduction of "phone betting" by the Queensland TAB. Today, phone
betting is regulated under the provisions of the Racing and Betting Act
1980. The use of the telephone as an instrument for placing wagers on
racing events has become the preferred method of participating in
wagering for many punters. It is widely considered that the telephone
betting regime provides a safe and secure means for punters to place
However, the rise in technological innovations means that interactive
gambling now requires specific legislation to deal with the provision of
gambling products into private residences via telecommunication means.
While some of these means already exist, the Bill has also been designed
to capture any new technology which may emerge in the future. In
essence, the Bill has been designed to regulate existing gambling
activities in conjunction with existing Gaming Acts or to stand alone as
a regulatory mechanism for new or previously unregulated gambling
activities which may be accessible in private residences via interactive
means. It is also important to note that the Bill will not, and is not
intended to, expand the range of gaming products available through
commercial venues such as casinos, clubs and hotels.
The Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation will be responsible for
administering the provisions of the proposed legislation. Currently,
the Office of Gaming Regulation is also responsible for regulating
machine gaming, casinos, art unions, keno and lotteries in this State
and is the logical regulator of interactive gambling in Queensland. The
role of the Office of Gaming Regulation will ensure that all forms
gaming and wagering, whether conducted by traditional means or
electronically, are conducted in accordance with a consistently high
level of probity and integrity.
A primary aim of the Bill is to ensure that those who wish to
participate in interactive gambling can do so confidently and in a
secure regulatory environment. Accordingly, the Bill includes a number
of consumer protection principles. I particularly wish to highlight a
number of provisions designed to ensure that those who wish to
participate in interactive gambling can do so confidently, fully aware
of the stringent consumer protection provisions.
Specifically, the legislation includes provisions which will restrict
access to minors. This includes ensuring that adequate proof of age has
been supplied to a licensed operator prior to the allowing a player to
register as a player.
The Bill will enable a player to set limits on the amount of individual
and cumulative bets. Such limits may apply to a bet on a particular
game or state a maximum amount that can be wagered by a player over a
period of time. Alternatively, a player may set a limit of zero which
would exclude them from participating in the gambling activity.
In addition, if a person is concerned about their own or another
player’s welfare and believes that the gambling habits pose a threat to
the player or the player’s family, an application may be made to have
the player banned from participating in any form of licensed interactive
gaming activity. Such a ban would prevent the player from participating
in interactive gambling which is licensed in Queensland or in any other
The legislation will also control advertising and marketing of
interactive gambling. These provisions ensure that any advertising of
interactive gambling products is conducted responsibly and in an
In line with all other gaming legislation in Queensland, credit betting
will be prohibited.
In addition, the legislation contains a number of responsible gambling
provisions which ensure that the public interest is paramount to the
operation of licensed interactive gambling activities available in this
State. This regulatory regime ensures that the highest standards of
probity and integrity are maintained in the provision of interactive
The Bill has been developed in acknowledgement of the principles of a
national regulatory framework, which was prepared by Gaming Ministers
from jurisdictions throughout Australia. The National approach seeks to
minimise the impact of gambling products provided from overseas or
illegal sources by prohibiting advertising and marketing by illegal
operators and by providing alternative products where the entitlements
of players are protected. These principles have been developed following
extensive consultation and cooperation between the jurisdictions.
I turn now to the provisions of the Bill.
Specifically, the Bill provides the scope and principal elements
relating to the operation of interactive gambling. In summary, the Bill
- provide a regulatory framework for the conduct of interactive
- allow for licenses to be issued to approved providers of interactive
- allow for the mutual recognition of licensed providers from other
jurisdictions within Queensland and vice versa;
- allow for taxes to be levied on licensed providers; and, most
- provide a detailed regime for the protection of people who participate
in interactive gambling and the community generally.
Part 2 of the Bill provides the framework for a co-operative arrangement
among jurisdictions with which the Queensland Government enters into an
Agreement. The Agreement will specify matters on which Queensland will
recognise providers licensed in the other jurisdictions. This will
ensure that all jurisdictions participating in the regulation of
interactive gambling offer consistently high legislative standards as
those which are currently in place in this State.
This Part of the Bill also defines some key terms of the legislation in
establishing authorised providers and authorised games. Essentially,
the legislation will provide penalties against those who offer games
which have not been authorised under this legislation or the
corresponding legislation of a participating jurisdiction. It will also
provide penalties against those who participate in such gambling
activities knowing that they are not an authorised game.
Further, the Bill prohibits the advertising of premises for playing
interactive games or from obtaining, or seeking to obtain, commercial
advantage from the use of premises for playing interactive games. At
this point Mr Speaker, I would like to reaffirm that this legislation
will not expand the availability of gaming through commercial venues.
It will merely ensure that individuals can participate in gaming
activities in their own home assured that the activity is appropriately
Part 3 of the Bill provides for the issuing of licenses to providers to
offer specific gambling products via interactive means. It is intended
that this Part outlines the requirement for the application and issue of
such licences, as well as providing for circumstances where disciplinary
action may be taken for breaches of the licence. Such disciplinary
action may include issuing a show cause notice, censuring a licensee,
notification to rectify action taken by a licensee, suspension of a
licence or revocation of a licence. These provisions allow for the
investigation, by the chief executive of the Department, of the
suitability of a person or corporation to hold a licence under the Bill.
Part 4 of the Bill provides a comprehensive regime for the licensing of
persons who hold positions which are identified by the chief executive
as affecting or substantially influencing the operations of an
interactive gambling licensee. This licence will be known as a Key
Person Licence. Similar to other gaming legislation currently in force
in Queensland, key persons will be required to have their photograph and
fingerprints taken so that appropriate investigations may be conducted.
This regime will ensure that all interactive gambling activities
conducted pursuant to the proposed legislation, are done so in
accordance with the highest levels of probity and integrity.
Supporting this requirement, the Bill will prevent any person who has
failed to satisfy probity requirements from holding or retaining a
position which has been identified as a key person position.
The Bill also provides that an interactive gambling licensee may appoint
an agent to:
- register a player;
- establish a player’s account;
- accept deposits for, or authorise withdrawals from a player’s account;
- perform any other function which may be approved by the chief
executive, such as advertising and marketing functions.
A person will also be considered an agent if they conduct any of the
above activities within Queensland on behalf of an interactive gambling
provider who is licensed in a participating jurisdiction.
In particular, provisions have been included in the Bill which create
guidelines for the development of agency agreements as well as requiring
that agency agreements may then only be amended with the approval of the
chief executive. The Bill also specifies the grounds for termination of
such an agreement. Finally, this part enables the Minister to take
disciplinary action against an agent.
Mr Speaker, this is not intended to impinge on the rights of a licensee
to enter into commercial arrangements with its agents, but, rather, is
intended to ensure that all gambling activities undertaken under this
legislation meet a consistently high level of probity and integrity.
There are also provisions in the Bill for the remittance of licence fees
and taxes by the Government. Part 6 outlines details on the requirement
that licensed providers pay licence fees as specified under the
conditions of the interactive gambling licence. In addition, the Bill
provides that an interactive gambling tax will be levied on licensed
providers at a rate set by regulation. This is consistent with
legislation controlling existing land-based games.
This Bill differs from other Queensland gaming legislation in that it
provides for revenue sharing with other participating jurisdictions.
Essentially this means that the Queensland Government will be party to
an agreement which will provide that a proportion of tax collected from
a licensed provider will be returned to the participating jurisdiction,
reflecting the extent to which players from that jurisdiction
contributed to the licensed provider’s total gambling turnover. This is
an essential element of this Bill and, as part of negotiations with
participating jurisdictions, similar revenue sharing arrangements will
be provided to the Queensland Government from other participating
jurisdictions. Mr Speaker, this regime clearly shows that this
legislation has not been developed as a means of increasing Government
revenue at the expense of other Australian jurisdictions. It should be
noted, however, that the Government revenue received from overseas
players would be retained by the Government.
Part 7 of the Bill contains a number of compliance requirements which
are designed, in a consistent manner to other Queensland gaming
legislation, to ensure that appropriate control and monitoring
provisions are set in place. Specifically, these requirements include:
- ensuring adequate control systems are set in place;
- the establishment and administration of players’ accounts;
- the maintenance of gambling records;
- financial accounting and reporting obligations;
- audit obligations;
- ensuring prizes are appropriately paid; and
- handling of complaints.
Also included in this Part are an extensive list of gambling offences -
including cheating, forgery and deception, and bribery to mention just a
few - and a number of responsible gaming provisions.
Parts 8 and 9 provide the mechanisms for enforcement of the Bill’s
provisions. These parts outline the powers of investigation and
enforcement to be given to appropriate officers within the Queensland
Office of Gaming Regulation and outline legal proceedings for offences
against the legislation.
Finally, I wish to stress that it is important to recognise that, as the
development of regulatory codes to control commercial activities which
occur using Internet and interactive technology is in its infancy, this
Bill may require future streamlining. Such amendments may be necessary
to ensure that the Bill creates a regulatory regime within which
consumers may participate in approved gaming activities with full
knowledge that they are being offered in an appropriately controlled
Mr Speaker, this historic piece of legislation represents this
Government’s commitment to ensuring that all gaming and wagering
activities operated within this State are done so in a strictly
regulated environment and in recognition of responsible gambling
I commend the Bill to the House.
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