'Fake' lottery under attack as newsagents target Lottoland
THE future of growing gambling disrupter Lottoland is under threat as news agents around Australia launch an aggressive campaign to shut down the digital competitor they say is threatening their livelihoods.
Targeting gambling regulators and the Federal Government, as well consumers who are actively discouraged from using the lottery newcomer, the coalition of news agents and gambling bodies has purchased prime-time TV advertisements and plastered stores with campaign material featuring the tag line "Lottoland's gotta go".
The campaign leans heavily on the notion that "real lotteries" not only support small businesses - the news agents that sell tickets - but contribute to funding critical community services and facilities through taxes.
The Gibraltar-based online gambling company replicates big lotto wins by allowing users to bet on the outcomes of international lotteries and promises to match their prizes. While Australians who use Lottoland don't actually enter the overseas jackpots, the platform gives players access to the same massive prizes.
The controversial service is allowed to operate in Australia because it is registered in the Northern Territory - a popular base for bookmakers and gambling companies because of its attractive tax rates and licencing regime.
Former NT chief minister Paul Everingham, who is fronting the grassroots campaign against Lottoland, told news.com.au the gambling operator and the NT government that allows it to operate are ripping Australians off.
"The lotteries that I'm speaking for, they're about putting money back into the community. The thing about the Territory is it's unfair to the rest of Australia that it's left to be used as a base for these lottery enterprises," he said.
"It gets a huge chunk of GST, of tax revenue from all other Australians, so what's it doing allowing companies from places like Gibraltar to siphon funds that could be going back into the state?"
Mr Everingham called on Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison to crack down on the NT government.
"I think the other states and federal government should bring down heavily to bear on the Northern Territory government to cease this," he said.
"There's no benefit to Australia for permitting Lottoland, while there is benefit for Australia in retaining real lotteries."
Lottoland has previously proudly worn the label of an industry disrupter, and has been referred to as the Uber of lotteries.
But Mr Everingham said: "It's a disruption that's benefiting Gibraltar and people we don't know about, but it's a disruption that's harming Australia."
Australian Lottery and newsagents Association CEO Adam Joy said Lottoland was misleading.
"This campaign is a response to many Australians being very confused about this betting model and thinking they are entering a lottery - not realising that it takes away from local family run businesses and the 20,000 staff employed by news and lottery agents," he said.
"These bookmakers use the language and imagery of lotteries, and this leads to people potentially being misled.
"Consumers need to know the difference between buying official pool-based lottery tickets, and using a wagering website that sends bets overseas."
According to the Herald Sun, Lottoland could face bans in three Australian states, with the Victorian government exploring ways to tighten consumer protections around online lottery betting.
Senate crossbenchers Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon have previously pushed for legislative changes to ban lotto betting and shut down Lottoland.
Lottoland CEO Luke Brill dismissed the campaign as "bullying tactics" and "monopolistic behaviour".
"The taxi industry did a similar thing for Uber, so it's not so much of a surprise," he told news.com.au.
"They say Lottoland is a fake lottery. We've never claimed to be a lottery, our whole model is that you can bet on the outcomes of a lottery."
Mr Brill argued Lottoland paid GST, gaming tax and corporate tax, and is supporting the introduction of a point of consumption tax.
To fight back against the campaign, Lottoland is inviting Australians to bet on next week's Oz Lotto, promising to pay out $100 million if a player picks the correct numbers, rather than the likely $5 million the underlying lottery is likely to jackpot to.
"If you bet with us and you get it right we'll give away $100 million, this is the difference between us and a regular lottery," Mr Brill said.