SBC News RWA: Racing and sports ‘could lose $3bn’ to illegal offshore gambling

RWA: Racing and sports ‘could lose $3bn’ to illegal offshore gambling

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) has revealed that illegal offshore gambling could cost nearly $3bn in lost taxes and racing and sport product fees unless action is taken.

It was in the Australia Offshore Wagering Market Analysis 2023 Report that it states the illegal offshore market in Australia is now worth more than $1.1bn – which is around 15% of the total Australian gambling market.

Developed by independent data analytics firm H2 Gambling Capital, the report details that from 2022-27, racing and sports bodies could lose $1.6bn in product fees to illegal offshore gambling markets, while $1.3bn in taxes could be lost.

Responsible Wagering Australia CEO, Kai Cantwell, commented: “It is crucial that any future reforms are balanced and prevent Australian players from being driven offshore, where player protections are limited.

“Additionally, failure to maintain a sustainably regulated sports betting market could result in a significant loss of economic benefits to the Australian economy, as well as to the sporting, racing, and broadcasting industries.”

The authority explained that offshore operators do not have to contribute tax revenues or product fees and are not required to provide important consumer protection measures provided by Australian-licensed operators. 

As a result of this, these operators can offer more competitive pricing to customers than licensed onshore operators. 

The number of offshore wagering sites actively targeting Australian players has increased from 47 to 84 sites in the past four years, including those which allow for wagering with cryptocurrencies.

In March, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that it was beginning a ‘fresh wave of enforcement action’ against unauthorised gambling websites deemed to be targeting national consumers.

The watchdog issued a request to Australian internet service providers (ISPs), who have been ordered to block “eight more illegal offshore gambling websites and affiliate marketing domains.

Moreover, the new report found that ‘once established, eliminating an offshore wagering market is that much harder to achieve’, and therefore it’s important to ‘maintain a broad and fair onshore market licensing system that favours licensed operators’.

The analysis shows that ‘any prevention of advertising and marketing onshore has a number of significant drawbacks’. 

Most importantly, the RWA explained, it prevents players from knowing which sites are legal and safe. In addition, restrictions on onshore advertising give unlicensed operators an unfair advantage because they already regularly advertise online via affiliate websites which are ‘difficult to police’.

“RWA and its members look forward to the outcomes of the House of Representatives Inquiry into Online Gambling and will continue to work with the government to discuss sensible measures that ensure that the six million Australians who enjoy a punt can do so safely,” Cantwell continued.

The report regarded the country as one of the most progressive in terms of its approach to safe and responsible gambling onshore, with licensed operators subject to a number of controls. 

Recently, the National Consumer Protection Framework has introduced a range of new required messages which must appear in all gambling advertising. 

The coverage and impact of Australian bookmaker campaigns continues to be under the spotlight as part of an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the industry’s societal impact.

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