Australia wants stricter gambling website access

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
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According to a recommendation that has recently been made by a parliamentary cross-party committee, the Australian government should make more efforts to adopt an obligatory age-verification system for all websites offering gambling content.

Casino Guardian reports that the recommendation has been made after the committee revealed some inquiry findings released in February 2020 in the report called “Protecting the Age of Innocence.”

The authors of the report have explained that a large number of people, particularly parents, were concerned about underage access to gambling content on the internet.

As a result, the committee has asked the Digital Transformation Agency and the eSafety Commissioner to join forces and work to implement the system.

This, however, could turn out to be technically tricky.

Australia has long had legislation that is aimed at restricting the access of underage individuals to so-called adults-only products.

Such products normally require a proof of age to be provided by the person.

For the time being, websites offering gambling contents represent a significant proportion of web searches and traffic.

Recent estimates provided by the committee in its report, the average age at which children are exposed to such content is currently between 8 and 10 years.

In theory, the implementation of stricter control on such websites seems simple enough, but in fact, there could be serious difficulties.

Given the massive scale of both sectors, it would not be easy for the Federal Government to even come up with a list of applicable websites.

On the other hand, without a definitive list, it would be almost impossible to block access to sites that violate these restrictions.

There are also many websites hosted outside Australia.

This means they may be automatically required to provide different age verification mechanisms for customers in different jurisdictions.

One of the default solutions that have been considered is credit card verification, as there are international platforms to verify credit cards.

Unfortunately, there are too many ways to obtain credit card details, as a child could use a parents credit card or in some cases even obtain their own.

There are also other options to verify ID, such as driving licences, but other issues such as identity fraud and privacy breaches also occur.

Such matters would also pose various logistically challenges, as offshore gambling and adults-only websites could be required to verify details of Australian residents, which is impractical.

Even in case the Australian authorities find a technical solution to restrict gambling on websites, it remains unclear whether the measures would be effective, as ways to evade the rules already exist.

Customers all around the world are increasingly using VPN services to bypass the restrictions on various media content and access some websites of interest.

NAB allows customers to ban gambling transactions

Australian banks have been addressing gambling in their official customer policies in the past several years.

Casino Aus reported last month that some have blocked gambling transactions completely and others are in the process of seeking public feedback.

National Australia Bank, however, decided to take a unique angle by giving their customers the option of blocking gambling transactions.

On February 21, NAB announced that it will give all of their retail banking customers the option to restrict most gambling transactions.

This expands a process started in December for customers with some cards in some formats.

Customers using the NAB Visa credit or debit card via Android and iOS devices, can now easily block all gambling transactions through the app very easily.

The feature, now rolled out on all new versions of the app, was a result of Australian Gambling statistics released last December.

Of all gambling expenditures in 2017-18, nearly $25 billion of it was related to gambling.

And that was a five per cent year-on-year increase.

NAB chief customer experience officer Rachel Slade noted: “It’s very easy to place a bet, so there’s real value in giving people the option to plan ahead and control their spending.

“This tool is designed to put the choice in the hands of our customers.”

Slade added that more than 10,000 customers have used the restriction since its initial rollout in December.

This, she said, highlights “the importance of offering easy-to-use tools for customers to manage their finances.”

NAB customers must download the latest version of the NAB app to make use of the feature.

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