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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee

JANSEN, Mr David, Director, Broadcast Content Section, Department of Communications and the Arts

PATTESON, Dr Carolyn, First Assistant Secretary, Content Division, Department of Communications and the Arts

REED, Mr Tristan, Branch Manager, Welfare Quarantining and Gambling Department of Social Services

VERDON, Mr Andrew, Assistant Director, Online Gambling Section, Department of Communications and the Arts


CHAIR: Good afternoon to all of you. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you. I remind senators that the Senate has resolved that an officer of a department of the Commonwealth or of a state shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy and should be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to superior officers or to a minister. This resolution prohibits only asking questions for opinions on matters of policy and does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policies or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted. Do you have any additional comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?

Mr Reed : I have responsibility for developing the consumer protection framework.

Dr Patteson : The content division encompasses a number of things but, obviously, includes our responsibilities in online gambling.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for appearing before the committee today. Unless anybody has an opening statement—and I do not think you do—

Mr Reed : I have prepared a short one to just give the committee an update on the government's progress in the response to the Barry O'Farrell review, if you would like me to read it out.

CHAIR: Yes, please; thank you, Mr Reed.

Mr Reed : As the committee would be aware, on 7 September 2015, the government asked the Hon. Barry O'Farrell to conduct a review into the impact of illegal offshore wagering. The government publicly released the review and its response on 28 April, agreeing to 18 of the 19 recommendations and noting the final one.

In responding to the review, the Australian government said it would establish a strong consumer protection framework. It would clarify the law of prohibiting click-to-call in-play betting services in respect of the original intent of the Interactive Gambling Act. It would not expand the online betting market in Australia by legalising in-play betting and it would crack down on illegal offshore wagering by amending the law to make it clear that it is illegal for overseas gambling companies to offer gambling products to Australians and empowering the Australian Communications and Media Authority with civil penalties to enforce the law and also introduce other disruption measures to curb illegal offshore wagering such as placing company directors of illegal offshore companies on the Movement Alert List.

So the Department of Social Services that I work with and the Department of Communications and the Arts are working together, along with other Commonwealth agencies, to implement the government's response to the review. So the first step is implementing changes to the Interactive Gambling Act that Dr Patteson will update you on shortly and also working with state and territory governments on developing a national consumer protection framework, which is what I am working on, so I can give you a quick update on that now.

There was a consultation process that happened late last year that you are probably aware of where we issued a discussion paper to targeted stakeholders and held some round tables. From there, we have been working further with state and territory officials on developing elements of the framework, and there was a ministerial meeting late last year where ministers, state and territory ministers and Commonwealth ministers, gave in-principle agreement to 11 elements of the framework. They are a national self-exclusion register for online wagering; a voluntary opt-out precommitment scheme; prohibition of lines of credit being offered by online wagering providers; a harmonised regulatory regime to ensure the offering of inducements are consistent with responsible gambling; the provision of operators to provide activity statements; more consistent responsible gambling messaging and gambling counselling advice; staff training in the responsible conduct of gambling through a government-approved provider; reducing the current 90-day verification period for customers; discouraging links between online wagering operators and pay-day lenders; and greater national consistency in advertising of online wagering services.

Ministers also agreed that gambling research should be driven by what government required to inform policy, and the department has undertaken to do another round of consultation, and we expect that will happen, depending on decisions by ministers, in April. The second round of consultation will start in April, where we will test further the refined policy elements of the consumer protection framework. I should note that there is another ministerial meeting scheduled for later this month on 31 March. That is probably all I have.

Dr Patteson : I will just add a couple of comments. The Department of Communications and the Arts is responsible for implementing the first stage of the government's response to the 2015 illegal offshore wagering review, and that is to strengthen the enforcement of the Interactive Gambling Act. As I am sure you are aware, a key aspect of this is to ensure that Australians are protected from illegal online gambling operators, and so the government, obviously, introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 in the House of Representatives on 10 November last year. It was passed through the House on 8 February this year, and so is currently before the Senate.

We also note the importance of the work being led by my good colleague here at the Department of Social Services in consultation with the states and territories to develop the national framework, which, we believe, incorporates many of the harm minimisation measures contained in Senator Xenophon's sports betting bill.

One other thing I would like to update the committee on is that there has been some reference today and some conversation about one of the other review recommendations about consulting with the ISPs on voluntary options to disrupt access to illegal gambling websites or warning messages to raise awareness of the risks involved in gambling on unlicensed sites. We are currently developing options around this and we are expecting to consult with the communications alliance and ISP shortly, and we would aim to have an agreed position in relation to this recommendation by the middle of this year.

Senator XENOPHON: In terms of the illegal sites—and I think my colleague Senator Kakoschke-Moore will ask about sports betting here in Australia—as I understand the legislation that is before the Senate it will give some increased powers of referral to ACMA and clarify some of those powers. But at the end of the day, unless there is a comprehensive approach to try to block those sites—and there are some commercial applications, such as Netsweeper from Canada, that say they have a 90 or 95 per cent filtering mechanism that is effectiveness—or you liaise with banks so that they shut down those merchant numbers in the same way that I think there are some proscribed organisations that you cannot have financial transactions with, are they the sorts of things the department has given advice on in the context of having an effective regime to deal with illegal sites?

Mr Reed : The Department of the Treasury is leading the work on payment blocking using credit cards for illegal offshore wagering providers and they have given me an update that they are still consulting on that policy. So, they have consulted, and obviously that got mixed feedback—

Senator XENOPHON: Perhaps you could give us details on notice of what that level of consultation has been, with whom they have consulted, and what information they have received—because the consultation will be only as good as the information received, won't it?

Mr Reed : Yes, I will take the detail on notice, and I will talk with our Treasury colleagues.

Senator XENOPHON: Does that include looking at the Netsweeper type of approach of blocking sites as well?

Mr Verdon : In relation to the ISP blocking, which was recommendation 19 of the review—

Senator XENOPHON: Which is the one that was not accepted?

Mr Verdon : It was accepted in principle. But the government response was that we would consult with ISPs on voluntary options around website blocking and/or warning messaging, and the department is currently developing a number of options at the moment. One of them is around third-party providers, which may include Netsweeper—those sorts of technologies. On the second one, there is an ISP code that currently sits under the Interactive Gambling Act, and that has not been updated since the act came in, in 2001.

Senator XENOPHON: What does that mean? For a Luddite, what does that mean?

Mr Verdon : Currently with the ISP code ACMA gives URL to the ISPs and they include it in a family-friendly filter list. But advice we have gotten back from ACMA and other stakeholders is that that is generally ineffective, and we are sort of looking at—things have moved on—in 15 or 16 years time there may be new technologies out there and we can update that code. That would mean the ISP providers could voluntarily either block websites or come up with some sort of warning messaging.

Senator XENOPHON: So, where are we at with that?

Mr Verdon : We are developing those options and we are looking to consult with Communications Alliance, who represent the ISPs, and also some of the leading ISPs, later this month.

Senator XENOPHON: Are you also going to consult with consumer groups and those who represent people who have been affected by gambling, such as Financial Counselling Australia? You have the industry perspective, which is fair enough, but what about those who say you should do everything possible to reduce the harm caused by having access to these illegal sites?

Mr Verdon : This recommendation came out of the review, and the review was quite extensive. It consulted vendors through 79 submissions and over 30 face-to-face meetings. That was with industry, but there were a lot of responsible gambling organisations as well, and even problem gamblers and individual gamblers. So, we did get that perspective there, and that is what fed into this recommendation. It is something on which we really have to consult with the industry, because, as you may know, ISPs are generally quite resistant to blocking. They say that any sort of blocking is ineffective—

Senator XENOPHON: Former Senator Conroy discovered that with another piece of legislation, yes.

Mr Verdon : They normally say it is quite ineffective because they think people can easily get around it. There are a lot of ISPs; who is going to pay for it? Obviously it comes down to the cost. So, they are the sorts of things we are looking to consult with Communications Alliance and ISPs on later this month.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: That would be fairly complicated for the average person to do, though, if we are trying to cut down on the large number of people—or even a small number of people—who have addictive issues around gambling. Some people can get around ISPs and those kinds of things, but you would not expect that it would be a normal thing to do, would you?

Mr Verdon : No, I think it is like anything. If you really want to do it you will find a way to get around it. It is a bit like piracy.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Yes, or the dark web. There are other ways to do it, right? But not many people can do it.

Mr Verdon : Correct. It is like copyright piracy. Now, ISPs are blocking certain websites, but if someone really wants to do it they will get a PN and go around it. But I would not think it is for the mass market, no.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I think, Mr Reed, you mentioned that you were discouraging links between payday lenders as one of the things that is being looked at. What does 'discouraging' mean, exactly? Can you ban it, or are you—

Mr Reed : We can ban it. The advice we have received in the consultations to date is that very few, if any, online providers actually do have links with payday lenders. And prohibiting it is one of the options we are considering, yes, and we believe we can do that through legislation.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Could somebody give me a pretty clear idea on what the role of the new regulator that is going to be legislated will be exactly?

Mr Reed : The one proposed in this bill?

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Yes.

Mr Reed : Well, I can talk in relation to the consumer protection framework. We are considering options for how that will be regulated and we are in discussions with state and territory governments at the moment around what options there are. And I guess there are three main options, really. There are variations of each main option, but the options we are considering are whether the framework itself is legislated by state and territory governments in state and territory legislation or licensing agreements and regulated by state and territory governments. The second option is whether it is legislated by the Commonwealth, and that could be through the Interactive Gambling Act or something similar, but then regulation is devolved to state and territory governments. And then the third option obviously is legislated by the Commonwealth and regulated by the Commonwealth through something like the national regulator. And that will be a big part of the next round—the consultation. It is around what the pros and cons of each model are, and that will be part of the advice that is provided to government. But I guess there are pros and cons of each option, really.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I can imagine, but I am just interested—and it is going to be hard for us to support the bill without that kind of information. I can see a lot of good roles for the regulator, just from what I have heard today, but when will we know when the exact role is going to be formulated? And who is going to be appointed? Are they going to be independent? How are you going to manage those processes?

Mr Reed : In relation to this bill?

Senator WHISH-WILSON: The regulator—same thing, yes: the IGA regulator.

Mr Reed : In this bill the regulator is regulating the consumer protection measures in the bill. The proposed regulator in this bill would regulate the provisions in the bill. It would be independent of the IGA, I understand—or ACMA, at this stage.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: That is interesting, because Tabcorp asked, and they thought it would be ACMA. But I do not suppose anyone really has an idea of what it will be yet. Has there been at least discussion with state governments around that?

Mr Reed : Well, outside of this bill I can only talk about what discussions we are having with the consumer protection framework more broadly. But I am not sure that it really aligns with the regulator that this bill proposes to establish. So I think there is probably a difference between the work I have been doing as part of the consumer protection framework and what is proposed in this bill.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Let me give you just a generic example. Self-excluders have reported to the gaming company that they are working with. We heard evidence from our previous witness that there have been breaches where they have still continued to lose money and compound their problems, even though they have been self-excluders. Will the regulator be able to, for example, look at those issues and monitor those issues, or at least collate some information on it? We do not seem to even have an idea of how often this occurs and how big a problem it is. Is that your department's job?

These are fundamental issues underlying this bill. We are trying to prevent harm and do good things for the industry.

Mr Reed : Where it sits probably depends on whether we are talking about the regulator proposed in this bill or the regulatory models I have been working on in preparation as part of the consumer protection framework.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Perhaps you could take it on notice.

Mr Reed : Yes.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Certainly before I get up in the Senate to talk about this and have it voted on I would like to know what the regulator's role is going to be and who potentially they will be, especially in relation to the provision of this amendment we are looking at.

My last question is in relation to advertising: we have heard from just about everyone today that they want to see a reduction in advertising for online sports betting. I know this bill does not specifically deal with that, but does the department see it as something we can legislate for, or will potentially have to legislate for, if there is no voluntary agreement amongst the players to reduce advertising? Do you think it is something that will have to come forward in separate legislation?

Mr Jansen : Senator, can I just clarify your question?

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Yes.

Mr Jansen : Is your question in relation to betting advertising that occurs online or in relation to advertising of online services.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Both really, but especially advertising to get people to bet online for sports betting specifically.

Mr Jansen : The government does not have any intention, at this stage, to legislate to introduce further restrictions in relation to betting advertisements typically during sporting events.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Right.

Mr Jansen : If you will permit me to shine a light on that answer a little bit more: the existing rules around broadcast television are set out in codes of practice that are negotiated between the Australian Communications and Media Authority—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: There are certain times they can and cannot advertise in kids' programs and that sort of thing.

Mr Jansen : That is right. There are two sets of rules. One is geared towards protecting children at certain times of the day. So they basically say that from 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm you cannot show gambling advertisements during G-rated preschool or children's content and from 4 pm to 7pm in the afternoon. In addition to that, you cannot show advertisements during programs that are principally directed towards children between 5 am to 8.30 pm. The issue that is often raised is that exceptions to these rules are sports, news and current affairs events. We see that there are limited amounts of advertising during sporting programs.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Which a lot of people watch.

Mr Jansen : Indeed. Separate to that there are also rules in the commercial television industry, the subscription television and the commercial radio codes of practice around advertisements during sporting games and the promotion of live odds during sporting games. In relation to advertisements during sporting games, free-to-air broadcasters and subscription broadcasters will not show advertisements during play. They can show them prior to the game, after the game and during scheduled breaks—for example, at half time or during injury stoppages. In relation to the promotion of odds, which is probably a bit more on point here, the rule is that they cannot promote odds during the game and in scheduled breaks and unscheduled breaks. If it is in relation to the commentator, the commentator cannot promote live odds 30 minutes before the game right through to 30 minutes after the game. So those rules are there. We are obviously aware of significant concerns in relation to the amount of sports betting that you tend to see during events but at this stage, under the current regulatory framework, it really is a matter for the Australian Communications and Media Authority, as the safeguarder of community standards, to work with the industry to address where it sees there is a problem.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: It has been clear today from all the presenters that they believe there should be less advertising for their own benefits let alone the public's benefit. I am just not sure how that process is going to be kicked off.

Mr Jansen : You did mention online advertising.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Yes.

Mr Jansen : Online is in a different place in our regulatory framework. We do not have a licensed regulatory framework that applies to online services, nor do we have a framework such as we have for broadcasting, which has a long-established tradition of being regulated. We do not have something that can be readily applied in that online environment. Advertising in the online space presents a number of additional regulatory challenges over and above the specific problem being addressed.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: If the standard URL was providing commentary on an AFL game—for example—they could have links on those pages to online gaming companies and there is no regulation around that kind of thing?

Mr Jansen : There is no regulation. There is some broader regulation around what the ad itself may show. It is under a self-regulatory framework administered by the Advertising Standards Bureau. So, to the extent that media partners and advertisers are willing to submit themselves to that process, then there are rules around the sorts of messages that you can put in gambling ads—even online gambling ads.

Mr Reed : In the online space, that is being considered as well for the framework I am working on with state and territory governments—whether there are requirements around responsible gambling messaging, but also whether a similar code to that currently used with broadcast advertising could be applied in the online space and social media space.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: In terms of overall consumer protection—separate to this bill—is there any movement or momentum towards toward the companies themselves being penalised or fined, or covering the losses, for the kinds of breaches that occur when problem gamblers who have self-excluded have been allowed to trade and have lost money?

Mr Reed : Regarding the penalty that would be applied, that level of detail has not been considered yet, but, definitely, it is the intention, through the framework, that people would be able to self-exclude, and for people who have self-excluded it would be a breach of that self-exclusion to allow them to gamble through that provider. I cannot comment on what the penalty provisions would be, because we have not got to that level of detail, but definitely it would be a breach of the framework, and, therefore, a breach of the relevant legislation that the framework is contained in.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: And you will consult on what those penalties will be?

Mr Reed : That is right.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: We heard from the last witness that they are not high enough. I would have just assumed they should pay for the losses of the person who has taken a punt when they should not have.

Mr Reed : We will definitely consult on what those penalties will be.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: In relation to the regulator that is proposed in the bill that we are looking at today—the bill that Senator Xenophon reintroduced into this parliament—we are looking at the regulator having quite broad powers and regulating a national framework. What is the department's view on how long you think it is going to be before we know what is happening next with the National Consumer Protection Framework? What is your time line for that?

Mr Reed : At the moment, and this could be subject to change, the intention is that there will be a ministerial meeting—currently scheduled for 31 March this month, in about three weeks—where there will be in-principle agreement to a level of detail under each element of the framework—those 11 elements that I mentioned. Then it will go out for further consultation, and at this stage it is intended to be a public consultation process. We are aiming for a minimum of four weeks. It will be public on our website for anyone to lodge a submission; it will be a COAG regulatory impact statement process, where anyone can lodge a submission. We will do further roundtables or one-on-one consultations with key stakeholders. We will compile all that information, and then we will have further discussions with state and territory officials.

That consultation process will finish in early to mid May. We will then have further discussions at an officials level to agree on the final detail of the framework, and then the framework will go to ministers. It has to go to not only Commonwealth ministers but state and territory governments as well to agree on it through their relevant cabinet processes. Our intent is to have all that finalised midway through this year or early next financial year. Then it will be a matter of how long it takes to implement the framework, and that would largely be dependent on the regulatory model—whether it has to be passed through Commonwealth legislation, whether it has to be passed through state and territory legislation, whether it has to be included in licensing agreements, and things like that. I could not really give a time frame on how long it would take to implement until we really know the model of how the framework would be regulated.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: We heard a little earlier today from Tabcorp about their fixed betting terminals which they are rolling out to spring and autumn racing carnivals and also to sports stadiums. It is my understanding they are just on display there—they are not shielded from public view in any way, so children attending sports games with their families will be exposed to 'bet live here now' signage and adults betting, which I have some very serious concerns about in terms of normalising gambling in relation to sports. Is this something that has been brought to either of your department's attention before, and would it be something that is within the remit of this National Consumer Protection Framework development that you would consider?

Mr Reed : It is a good question. I have not had that scenario specifically raised with me, but, through our consultations, stakeholders have raised the concern around various betting terminals in various clubs and what it means when it is account-based versus handing out an iPad and things like that—the various different kinds of scenarios you can get in land-based gambling. Who the consumer protection framework applies to is part of the ongoing discussions, and it is not as clear cut as I first imagined it would be.

Essentially what we are trying to capture is all account-based phone and internet betting within the framework. It does get more difficult when you have providers that offer land-based gambling that can often be through an account—but they can do face-to-face, which is usually regulated and licensed through state governments—but then they can also bet through phone and internet betting on the same account. That is where it gets complicated. That is the sort of grey area we are still working through, but I think it is fair to say the intent of the framework would be to apply to account-based betting through internet and phone-based betting.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Rather than through just being able to walk up to a betting terminal at a sports stadium to place a bet?

Mr Reed : That is right.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: We have been hearing about some of the protections they have put around this, with CCTV footage being a means through which they can monitor these terminals and with security guards being there, who, by the sounds of it, are provided by the stadium and are probably also responsible for general security and not just keeping an eye on these machines. From a consumer protection point of view I have some very serious concerns about that. But I will move on to a different subject for now, which is the framework that you are working on. One of the points is:

a harmonised regulatory regime to ensure the offering of inducements are consistent with responsible gambling.

Are there any inducements that you have ruled out as being inappropriate?

Mr Reed : I do not know whether I could say there are any inducements we have ruled out, because it would be a decision for ministers. I guess there is a bit of research out around inducements that we have been reviewing. I do not think I could say that any inducements are being ruled out. I think it is fair to say that some of the research says that some inducements are more risky than other inducements, such as sign-up bonuses and inducements that require you to turn over winnings a certain amount of times and things like that. They are the kind of inducements we are looking at more closely, but I cannot say that it is ruled out, because it would be a decision for ministers.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Okay. In relation to the consultation that you have conducted so far and that will be underway over the next four or five weeks after the ministers meeting, have you ever spoken as a department directly to people who have identified as a problem gamblers to get their feedback on their experience with gambling?

Mr Reed : We are in close consultation with Lauren, and she has provided names of problem gamblers. I have actually spoken to one, but it is our intention to meet with some of the key people that have put their name forward to speak to the department. It is definitely our intention in this next round that is more public to consult with those people. I have consulted with one because they have written to the department. I have actually spoken to them. But our intention is to speak more directly to more that Lauren has in the next round of consultations.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: This question may be a little premature, but I will give it a go anyway. Once the framework has been agreed to, has any thought been given to an advertising campaign to alert people who are gambling to changes in consumer protection and that they might have some more rights that they did not have previously?

Mr Reed : I would not say any official decision has been made on that, but I would be very surprised if we did not do some kind of communication campaign to promote the framework. No decision has been made about it, but it would definitely be the intention.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Okay, thank you. You may need to take this on notice, because it is statistical in nature, but can you tell the committee what the turnover of the sports betting industry in Australia is?

Mr Verdon : I can get some figures from 2014, and these came out of the O'Farrell review: $3.4 billion was the total wagering market in Australia, and $1.4 billion of that was the online wagering market.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: My understanding of the research is that there is some ambiguity about illegal offshore wagering and exactly how much money is being lost to illegal offshore sites.

Mr Verdon : Out of the review, there were two statistics that were given. There was a range of 64 to 400 million. So the upper estimate, 400 million, was going offshore and that was expected to grow to 900 million by 2020.

Senator CHISHOLM: We had a brief exchange with Mr Henley this morning about international cooperation. Is there anything on the radar from the department's point of view that might lead to progress in that regard?

Mr Verdon : One of the provisions that is a part of the government's interactive gambling amendment bill is to allow the ACMA to notify international regulators and operators about the provisions of the IGA. What we are hoping for there is that ACMA will get assistance with any evidence and also help raise awareness amongst a number of these international jurisdictions that provide services into Australia. You normally find that most of them come out about five or six jurisdictions. These include Malta, Gibraltar, even Great Britain and a couple of other jurisdictions as well. The ACMA will be given the power to liaise with these international regulators and to seek assistance on evidence and also to the awareness amongst their operators about the provisions. If the bill is passed, we would be looking to that as a catalyst to start off an advertising campaign overseas and to promote that these new measures and the gambling laws of Australia have changed and the enforcement has increased. We would be looking to get that word out there.

CHAIR: Of the 19 recommendations in the O'Farrell report, you are saying that 18 have been adopted by the government. Which of those 18 have you been able to implement effectively and reasonably quickly, and where are you finding the greatest roadblocks?

Mr Reed : The majority of the recommendations relate to the consumer protection framework and have been taken forward as part of that process. There are others that I will let the department of communications talk about, but I think all of ours are essentially on the same time line around getting agreement in the framework. To date, there have not been a lot of roadblocks. The stakeholders we have consulted with are largely supportive in principle around all the elements, but there are obviously stakeholders that disagree with some and there are stakeholders who disagree probably with a level of detail or how far we want to go with some of the elements of the framework. But we are definitely on track to implement all of the recommendations that the government agreed to in relation to the consumer protection framework.

Dr Patteson : The interactive gambling amendment bill that is currently before the parliament implement recommendations 3 and 17 of the bill. So that is on track. The bill has been introduced and obviously will take its course. Then the other one which we talked about briefly before was recommendation 19, which is the work with the ISPs and perhaps more broadly on blocking and what those options might be. There is good progress being made on that and a good time line for looking at how we would implement that recommendation as well.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: An element of the framework is a voluntary opt-out precommitment scheme. How does that work? I have heard of voluntary opt-in.

Mr Reed : The opt-in and opt-out really refers to whether you require the customer to make a conscious decision at the time of registration. An opt-in system would be that providers would have to have a voluntary precommitment scheme running on their platform, but they do not necessarily require the customer to set a limit or consciously choose not to set a limit. What we are proposing is that it has to be an opt-out scheme. So upon registration, it has to be one of the questions that a customer is asked about whether they want to set a limit. They can choose to not set a limit, but they have to be prompted and asked whether they want to.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: That is where the voluntary comes in. So it is a mandatory answer. You are saying you must say whether you want to set a limit.

Mr Reed : That is right. With mandatory, they would have to set a limit. With voluntary, they can choose to but voluntary opt-out means they have to at least be asked whether they want to.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you very much to the departments. You are free to go. That concludes the hearing. I thank all witnesses for their informative presentations.

Committee adjourned at 15 : 30