‘Fake lotto’ websites set to be banned

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Websites that allow Australians to ‘bet’ on the outcome of lotteries in other countries will be banned under new legislation to be introduced by the government.

The legislation will target lottery and keno games on websites including Lottoland and Planet Lotto.

“The Government has formed the view that permitting betting on these services, also known as ‘synthetic’ lotteries, undermines the long-standing community acceptance of official lottery and keno products,” the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, said in a statement.

“Traditional lotteries and keno games are popular and long-standing recreational gambling products that form an important income stream for thousands of small businesses across Australia, including newsagents, pharmacies, pubs and community clubs. They also generate significant taxation revenue for state and territory governments, helping to fund schools, hospitals, public transport and roads.

“Online services offering products that involve betting on lottery outcomes are relatively new and have generated considerable community concern. Since these concerns were first raised last year, the Government has listened carefully to a range of groups that have views on the undesirability of permitting betting on these products.”

Betting on lotteries is already banned in South Australia. Lottoland and Planet Lotto are licensed in the Northern Territory as sports bookmakers.

The legislation will commence operation six months after passage through the Parliament to ensure that those businesses currently offering online betting on lotteries and keno have an appropriate transition period within which to cease their activity, the Minister said.

‘Relief’ for newsagents

The Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA), which represents more than 4000 businesses employing more than 15,000 people, welcomed the proposed amendment to the Interactive Gambling Bill, saying the news came as a “relief”. The ALNA has long called for Lottoland in particular to be banned.

“We are pleased to see this loophole being addressed on a national level,” ALNA chief executive Adam Joy said in a statement. “The best kind of consumer protection from synthetic lotteries is to not allow it in our country. The model encourages problem gambling, promotes high-risk spending, and is misleading regarding the winnings available.

“And it also comes at a significant cost to state taxes, and to local family-run small businesses – that employ locally, pay Australian taxes and support the local community.”

Lottoland Australia CEO, Luke Brill, said the legislation is both misguided and unnecessary.

“The fact is that Lottoland does not offer betting opportunities on any Australian lottery, so our offering does not have a direct impact on newsagents,” he said. “On the contrary, we want to work with newsagents to provide customers with greater choice and even better services, which have the potential to be highly beneficial for individual newsagents.

“As a responsible and responsive corporate citizen that contributes extensively to local and community groups, we will continue to work closely with regulators and all political parties to reach a satisfactory outcome in the best interest of our more than 650,000 registered customers.”

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