Ban on gambling ads a certain winner, say independent MPs

Zoe Daniel says the government must choose to act in the interests of community.

Zoe Daniel says the government must choose to act in the interests of community. Photo: AAP/Getty/TND

The gambling industry is not worried about growing calls for regulation because of its cosy relationship with the government, independent MPs have alleged.

A parliamentary committee handed down a report in June that made 31 recommendations on how the federal government should address the dangers of online gambling.

The gambling sector held a two-day conference in response, where speakers brushed off the report, according to a participant who took notes of the proceedings.

“The feedback that we’re getting from the government in regards to the inquiry is that we probably don’t have too much to worry about there,” a speaker said.

“We can take one for the team and be the whipping boy and we can help the government find the win as long as it seems as the government is seen as firm on the industry.”

In November, the Australian Financial Review reported Communications Minister Michelle Rowland dined with gambling industry executives and received $19,000 in donations from Sportsbet before the election.

Independent MPs Zoe Daniel and Kate Chaney have called on the government to crack down on the industry by imposing a complete ban on gambling advertisements.

“The gambling industry is pretty confident that its $9 million of political donations over the last 20 years and its close relationships with the government will mean the government prioritises the gambling industry,” Daniel told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s up to the government to now show that it will choose to act in the interests of community, not in the interests of the powerful gambling companies, media and sports codes who stand to benefit from the misery created by gambling.”

Chief advocate of Alliance for Gambling Reform Tim Costello said Australians were sick of the gambling sector “grooming” their children with advertisements.

“Eighty per cent of 10 year olds know the logo, the jingles, the odds – imagine if 80 per cent of 10 year olds knew the difference between Peter Jacksons and Marlboros,” he said.

The government should take a whole-hearted approach to gambling regulation, like it did with tobacco, rather than take half-measures, he said.

But in her National Press Club speech in November, Rowland said a total ban on gambling advertising would not be as simple to implement as regulations on tobacco.

The relationship between sport and gambling in particular had complicated the government’s response, she said. 

But the independents say the government should follow the will of the Australian people and use a total advertising ban as a legacy item similar to former prime minister John Howard’s gun control regulations.

“Prime minister, this is your legacy,” Costello said.

“When you’re sitting on a porch, post-politics and saying ‘what did I do that was really significant?’ it could be this.”


Topics: gambling
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