New rules which will limit marketing opportunities for online gambling operators and affiliates in the Australian state of Victoria will be introduced from this weekend.

From Sunday (May 26), Victoria’s policy makers will be implementing regulations which were agreed late last year by regional and federal authorities which will see them commit to the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering.

Under the new rules, both affiliates and online betting operators in Victoria must comply with the requirements for betting account deposit limits, restrictions on direct marketing and a ban on perks that encourage consumers to continue betting.

The new rules will significantly alter the way in which affiliates can promote their products to a Victoria audience.

Victoria’s Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, commented that the new rules would make the state’s gambling sector the best regulated in Australia.

She said: “These Australian-first changes are about tightening the rules for online betting operators and empowering consumers to make better choices – and I encourage other states and territories to follow our lead.

“Victoria is the first state to sign up to the national framework because it offers greater protection to people who gamble online and gives them practical steps to better manage their gambling.”

From Sunday, affiliates and operators will be banned from offering credit, vouchers or other rewards to an account holder, as an incentive to refer their family or friends to open a betting account.

Operators will also be prohibited from providing complementary or free bets on the condition that account holders can only use the winnings to continue to bet, rather than giving customers an option to withdraw the funds.

Consumers must proactively opt-in to direct marketing, and must be offered simple and easy-to-use tools in order to set limits on the amount of money which can be deposited. Customers must also be able to easily close accounts.

The changes were welcomed by Shane Lucas, Chief Executive of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

He said: “Providing individuals with easily accessible tools and information to monitor and manage their gambling are important steps in reducing and preventing gambling harm.”

The National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering, designed to offer “nationally consistent protections for consumers of Australian interactive wagering services” is to be implemented across the country by May 2020.

The federal government introduced the new rules following the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering over fears about the prevalence of problem gambling among online punters. It claims that the rate of online problem gambling is three times higher than other types of gambling.

Speaking in December 2018, Paul Fletcher, the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, said: “The measures are designed to reduce the harm that can be caused to individuals and their families by excessive or at-risk online wagering.

“The National Framework will apply to about 2.5 million active online wagering accounts, or about a million people in Australia.”