The head of Australian racing and wagering giant Tabcorp has called for the establishment of a national regulatory framework in order to level the wagering playing field and ensure more effective enforcement across the industry.
Tabcorp’s Managing Director and CEO Adam Rytenskild told industry representatives on Wednesday that the current state-based model of regulation – which sees Tabcorp licensed in seven states and territories while many corporate bookmakers need only be licensed in the Northern Territory – is no longer effective in providing necessary community safeguards.
In-particular, he blamed the current “patchwork quilt” style of regulation for a “proliferation” of gambling advertising on Australian television but said many of the issues facing the sector could be solved by the establishment of a national regulatory framework.
“The [current] regulatory framework to police wagering operators [in Australia] is not fit for purpose,” said Rytenskild, who was speaking at the Regulating the Game conference in Sydney.
“It doesn’t hold all wagering operators to account. In some states the regulator is regulating less than 40% of the wagering activity in the state. It needs to change to better protect the community and take into account our social license responsibilities.
“Our regulators do great work but are constrained by not having a nationally consistent, well-resourced framework. Instead, we have a patchwork quilt system with different rules and regulations across each state. It has allowed foreign online bookmakers to be licensed in the Northern Territory and this has contributed to the proliferation of gambling advertising across our screens.
“The state-based licensing and regulatory regimes were established more than 20 years ago and they haven’t kept pace with the changing wagering ecosystem which has been disrupted.”
One option, Rytenskild suggested, is to create a single national regulator “which sets out a consistent standard for bookmakers to ensure there are strong integrity arrangements in place and consumer protections,” although the onus should be on regulators themselves to lead the charge rather than government.
“I think the industry needs to solve this in terms of the regulators, it’s not just a federal issue,” he said. “The state-based regulators understand this well, they regulate the wagering environment now and they have the potential to come up with a solution, whether it’s a national regulator or some sort of national agreement between the regulators.
“The key is there needs to be consistency because we’re only as good as the state with the least amount of regulation.”
Rytenskild’s comments come as Tabcorp continues to push its case for an equal playing field when it comes to taxation of the industry, with both New South Wales and Queensland having last year increased the Point of Consumption tax for corporate bookmakers.
However, while there are currently over 350 licensed bookmakers in the Australian market – many of them smaller operators who set up shop during the COVID – the Tabcorp chief predicted the coming year would see industry consolidation with only operators boasting suitable scale surviving into 2024.