Australia’s parliament last night (Thursday) announced its formal approval for a national ban on lottery betting websites.
The ban will come into force from January 1, 2019, and applies to all sites that accept bets on the outcome of lottery draws.
The federal government was persuaded to take action following a long-term campaign by newsagents, pubs and clubs that feared losing lottery ticket sales.
Adam Joy, chief executive of the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association, one of the main voices leading the call for a ban, praised the move, saying it will offer more protection to consumers in the country.
“This will protect Australia from synthetic lotteries and will bring important new consumer protections by closing the loophole that lotto betting sites have been operating out of,” Joy said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
“We now call on all synthetic lottery operators to do the right thing by Australians and cease offering these products immediately.”
Australian Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also issued a statement after yesterday’s parliamentary approval, saying that the government is committed protecting consumers and businesses.
Fifield said: “This legislation will also protect more than 4000 small businesses including newsagents, pharmacies and community clubs and pubs across the country who operate long-standing, recreational betting services.”
However, Lottoland Australia, the main target of those calling for the ban, said it is keen to remain active in the country despite yesterday’s decision.
Lottoland runs a service known as ‘synthetic lotteries’ in Australia, but will no longer be able to offer this product after the ban comes into effect.
The company had on numerous occasions called for the government to re-think the ban.
Lottoland Australia chief executive Luke Brill said the ruling “does not mean the end of Lottoland Australia”.
Brill said the changes are not due to come into effect until 2019 and Lottoland is “well advanced” with developing other ways it can offer services to punters in Australia.
In a statement, Brill said: “As you would expect, Lottoland Australia is well advanced in looking at other ways we can continue to deliver choice to the 700,000 Australians who have registered with us over the past two years.
“It is a great pity that the Senate did not give due consideration of the unintended consequences the new laws will have – not just on our customers, but on competition and innovation.
“As we have said from the very beginning, the legislation is bad news for Australian newsagents, too, which will now be at the mercy of a huge, money-hungry monopoly in the form of Tatts Group, now owned by Tabcorp.”
Brill added: “But this decision does not mean the end of Lottoland Australia – far from it.
“We are here to stay, and will continue to innovate and adapt so that we can continue to provide our customers with the type of exciting and innovative products they have come to expect from us over the past two years.
“Our lottery betting products will continue to be available for at least another six months, as stipulated in the legislation.”