The Independent Gambling Authority has now completed the consultation process by which it further considered the requirement that gambling loyalty programs include a facility for the predictive monitoring of the patterns of gamblers' play with purpose of intervening in cases where there is a risk of problem gambling. The act of completion was the publishing of a variation notice to the relevant codes of practice in the Government Gazette.
The relevant provisions were part of the Gambling Code of Practice Notice 2013, when it was prescribed in December 2013. Unlike the rest of the codes, which commenced on 1 March 2014, these loyalty program provisions had a long commencement date of 1 January 2016. However, the Authority—having become aware that some providers had issues with the requirements and would not be ready on that date—varied the Notice to defer commencement to 1 July 2016 and commenced the consultation process with a call for submissions to a hearing in November 2015. The Authority heard from gambling providers, system providers and other interested parties (including experts) and determined that some form of predictive monitoring was feasible by the extended date. It accepted that it would help gambling providers to be more prescriptive aout what woudl be compliant and set this out in a formal decision in mid-December 2015.
On 5 February 2016, the Authority released the technical wording of the relevant code variations notice to prescribe guidance as to minimum standards for compliant loyalty programs. A lengthy process of representations and further representations followed the release of that draft. While the time taken in these considerations was necessary, the Authority understood that the absence of the anticipated further regulatory action may have generated some uncertainty. The Authority is also aware that at least one sector of the South Australian gambling industry would not be ready to offer the facility in its loyalty programs on 1 July 2016.
Accordingly, the Authority has determined to extend that prescribed commencement date to 1 October 2016. The other proposed provisions of the variation notice are proceeding as originally circulated. The formal title of the statutory instrument is the Gambling Codes of Practice (General) Variation Notice 2016. The variations have been compiled into the Gambling Codes of Practice Notice 2013.
The Authority believes that gambling providers can comply with the new requirements by implementing a relatively simple report on a monthly basis. However, it is open to applications for transitional dispensations if these are received prior to the 1 October 2016 commencement date. Applications will have to explain the nature of the problem and propose a timeframe for implementation which demonstrates expedition and diligence. (Dispensation applications should cite clause 7(1)(d) of the Gambling Codes of Practice Notice, which provides for time limited or transitional dispensations in relation to a new requirement or obligation.)