Australia: VGCCC bans betting on minors in sports competitions

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has finally put an end to sports betting on competitions comprising players under the age of 19 or where all of them are minors.

Betting on a particular athlete under the age of 18 and their performance, bets on specific events like first goal or first to reach a certain score are also prohibited. However, bets on match results of a professional tournament, which includes minors, can still be placed.

All the sports betting platforms now have 60 days, starting from August 3, to comply with the new rules. Betting platforms failing to register or follow the rules may face strict actions in case of any violation.

“The idea that it’s okay to bet on minors just doesn’t hold up. We think minors deserve to be protected. It also raises integrity issues, with the possibility of people trying to influence how minors can behave by playing sports,” said Fran Thorn, chairman of the VGCCC, as per iGaming Brazil.

“Sports governing bodies and betting providers that fail to comply could lose their approval to run sports in the state or be prosecuted,” Thorn warned.

The issue was also raised back in January when three major betting companies were found to be taking bets on cricket matches featuring minors. These included Sportsbet, TAB, and bet365 who were allowing wagering on Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup which was being held in South Africa at the time.

National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds was seemingly angry and called out the companies, saying betting on a sports event for minors is child exploitation. Some parents of children, who were being bet on, were also upset with the news.

“It’s kids’ sport. I’d hate it if the motivation behind holding tournaments was because of the money from gambling rather than for the sport,” one of the parents said.

Australia, as a whole, has been taking active steps to regulate gambling in the country. In late June, a parliamentary committee recommended that gambling advertisements should be completely banned over the course of three years.

There has been an overwhelming consensus among stakeholders opposing gambling advertisements that the ads are grooming children to become gamblers. The committee concluded that a partial ban does not work and only a phased, complete ban would suffice as it cannot be bypassed.

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