Australia's Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has announced a blanket ban on betting on all under-19 sports competitions.
The VGCCC’s ban applies to sporting events where all participants are minors. It also prohibits betting in Victoria on the individual performance of athletes aged under 18 who are playing in senior or junior events.
This includes wagering on outcomes such as first goal scorer or first wicket taken, when the player is a minor. However, bets can still be made on team outcomes in senior sports when minors are playing.
Sports controlling bodies have been directed to amend agreements with betting providers to ensure they prohibit offering markets involving minors. The VGCCC said the ban also applies to other sports not governed by an approved sports controlling body.
Sporting bodies and betting operators will have 60 days from 3 August to comply with the new rules. After this period, offering bets on minors could lead to regulatory action.
VGCCC raises integrity and gambling harm concerns
In letters sent to sports bodies and betting providers, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission said permitting betting on minors poses integrity and gambling related harm concerns.
These concerns, the VGCCC said, include the susceptibility of minors to approaches seeking to undermine the integrity of an event and normalising gambling on events involving children.
“The idea that it is okay to bet on minors just doesn’t stand up,” VGCCC chair Fran Thorn said. “We think minors deserve to be protected. It also raises integrity issues, with the prospect of people attempting to influence how minors might behave playing sport.”
Sports controlling bodies and betting providers that fail to comply face losing their approval to run sports in the state, or prosecution, Thorn added.
“The VGCCC is of the view that betting on contingencies in sporting events relating to the performance of an individual minor in that sporting event is contrary to the public interest.”
Sweeping pokies reforms in Victoria
The ban comes after Victoria last month announced new reforms aimed at reducing harms from electronic gaming machines.
Set out by the premier, Daniel Andrews, and the minister for casino, gaming and liquor regulation, Melissa Horne, the reforms remain subject to final approval.
Changes include mandatory pre-commitment limits, identity verification through carded play, reduced load-up limit, curfews in venues enforced between 4am and 10am and reduced spin speed.
At the time, Andrews said the reforms provide the strongest gambling harm preventions and anti-money laundering measures in Australia.
Reforms sparked by Royal Commission
The reforms were announced following the Royal Commission inquiry into malpractice at Crown Melbourne.
In April 2022, the Commission found the casino “unsuitable” to hold a licence in the state. It also found that the casino engaged in conduct which was “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative”.
Following the inquiry, the government formed the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission to regulate gaming in the state.
The 2023 Victoria budget included AU$71m for the VGCCC to take on a larger role in gambling harm reduction. In this capacity it will take over most of the functions of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. This will come into effect from 1 July 2024.