New Report Outlines Reforms for Australia's Gambling Sector
Australia's House of Representatives Committee on social policy and legal affairs has concluded its inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on problem gamblers and has subsequently published a report detailing 31 measures for reforming the gambling industry in the country.
One of the most critical recommendations outlined in the report is the suggestion of a blanket ban on all gambling advertising on both broadcast media and online, that "leaves no room for circumvention."
According to the HOR committee, the spread of online gambling advertising encourages gambling amongst minors in the country and leads to a high rate of gambling addiction.
Online gambling has been deliberately and strategically marketed alongside sport, which has normalised it as a fun, harmless and sociable activity that is part of a favourite pastime.Gambling advertising is grooming children and young people to gamble and encourages riskier behaviour. The torrent of advertising is inescapable. It is manipulating an impressionable and vulnerable audience to gamble online.
Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), the trade body of Australia's largest gambling operators, has responded to the committee report specifically condemning the potential blanket ban.
Calling the suggestion a "step too far," the RWA urged the government to adopt a fair and balanced approach toward the committee report.
RWA members, along with broadcasters and major sporting codes, have publicly acknowledged that there is a growing desire in the community to see less gambling advertising. However, blanket bans – even in a phased roll-out – are short-sighted, ineffective and are not the answer. We know that strict changes – like blanket bans and banning inducements, such as bonus bets – often prove ineffective in addressing problem gambling, with Australians instead turning to illegal offshore markets as they seek out these options.
Other measures recommended by the committee include transferring regulation and licensing of online gambling to the federal level, while the states would still be responsible for imposing consumption taxes on the activity, creating an online gambling ombudsman, and a public education campaign.
The committee also suggested the appointment of a sole government minister to spearhead the implementation of a national strategy aimed at reducing the harm associated with online gambling.
The report also covers illegal gambling and asked the government to crack down on unapproved operators offering their services to players in Australia.
The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has confirmed that the government has received the recommendations and will look into them. If adopted, the measures would widely transform the country's online gambling market.