Western Australia's Government plans to fine customers who bet on synthetic lotteries in sweeping ban

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Western Australia's gambling regulator will be given sweeping new powers to ban future competitors to Lotterywest, under legislation which will also include provisions to fine members of the public who use synthetic lotteries.

The WA Government's "ban" on Lottoland and other synthetic lotteries, which allow people to place bets on lottery outcomes without purchasing a ticket in the contest itself, follows a similar move by the Commonwealth earlier this year.

But WA said its laws would go further, by preventing Lottoland from advertising its services and also including provisions to fine punters $2,500 for using synthetic lotteries.

The Federal Government's legislation, set to come into force on January 1, already imposed hefty fines for companies selling synthetic lottery products to Australians.

New laws will 'wipe out' future disruptors

Mr Papalia said WA's laws would protect Lotterywest into the future, giving the Gaming and Wagering Commission the ability to quickly wipe out any future competitors to Lotterywest without needing to pass additional legislation.

What is a synthetic lottery?

  • Companies including Lottoland, Planet Lotto and MyLotto24 have been dubbed 'synthetic lotteries' or 'fake lotto' because while they have the term 'lotto' in their name, customers don't actually purchase a lottery ticket.
  • Instead, customers place a bet on the outcome of a lottery drawn overseas and in Australia, with the gaming company acting as a bookmaker.
  • Lottoland, which is based in the British territory of Gibraltar and licensed in the Northern Territory, attracted considerable attention when it entered the Australian market in 2016 by offering Australians the chance to bet on a $2 billion powerball draw in the United States. Many punters mistakenly believed they had bought a ticket in the multi-billion dollar jackpot.
  • Lottery gaming companies argue that is unfair to label them as synthetic or fake, and that they are simply an online betting service no different to those for sport and horse racing.
  • Critics of 'synthetic lotteries' argue that online lottery betting businesses take customers away from existing state lotteries and don't contribute the same amount back in taxes or through charitable grants.


"It gives the Wagering Commission in the future the power to act in the event of some other unforeseen disruptive betting process coming onto the market, they can just outlaw it immediately," Mr Papalia said.

The Government said the move was needed to protect Lotterywest, which saw its ticket sales hit after Lottoland and other competitors emerged onto the market.

Despite something of a recovery last year, Lotterywest ticket sales were still $35 million down in 2017-18 compared to 2015-16.

The amount Lotterywest was able to provide to community beneficiaries was also $20 million less than expected last year.

"There is a world of disruption out there but I think it is the role of government to make things as fair as possible for the vast majority of the community," Mr Papalia said.

"Lotterywest is a benefit to the entire community so we are acting to protect Lotterywest, there is no shame in that."

Lottoland not giving up

But Lottoland said its operations in Australia would not cease, either as a result of the federal or WA Government legislation.

"We're not about to sort of break the law," CEO Luke Brill told ABC Radio Perth.

"We'll just continue to look at how we can innovate and change our business model to ensure we're fully compliant."

Opposition wants detail

WA Liberal leader Mike Nahan said he needed to see the detail before making a decision, but that it was important healthy competition in the industry is not stifled as a result of the changes.

"My inclination is I understand the benefits that Lotterywest provide to my community and the wider community," Dr Nahan said.

"However, generally, I am in favour of competition.

You can't stop progress, you can't stop competition even in the gaming industry."

The "bans" on Lottoland came after intense lobbying from newsagents, who said their business had been hit hard by the downturn in traditional lottery sales.

Newsagents who sell lotto tickets receive a share of revenue from those sales.