In Australia, a pair of independent federal politicians has called on the government to ban gambling advertisements during sports broadcasts and institute a $1 maximum bet for players enjoying the nation’s slots.
According to a report from the Australian Associated Press news service, Nick Xenophon, Senator for South Australia, and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie have joined with social justice campaigner Tim Costello in hopes of pressuring the new coalition government to put problem betting back on the political agenda.
Australians reportedly spend around $12 billion a year on slots while an estimated 500,000 are at risk of becoming problem gamblers. The trio also wants to revive a former parliamentary committee investigating gambling, institute a $120 maximum loss on slots and close a loophole that allows sport gambling firms to advertise in G-rated television timeslots.
“I talk as the father of a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old,” Wilkie, the MP for Denison, told reports in Melbourne on Thursday. “I don’t want them to watch the footy on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon because they will be bombarded with advertising. The community knows it’s wrong but the Liberal party and Labor party have refused to act.”
In response, the Australian Wagering Council declared that bookmakers are required to comply with strict codes of practice and laws on advertising that ban advertising to minors and the display of live odds during play. Online bookmakers additionally explained that a new advertising code had only just come into effect but that they were prepared to work with Canberra in order to address any lingering concerns.
“That discussion needs to involve sports and racing bodies, broadcasters and governments,” read a statement from Ian Fletcher, Chief Executive Officer for the Australian Wagering Council. “Everyone shares some of the responsibility. Advertising isn’t all bad. In a globally competitive market, it informs consumers of the identity of licensed Australia-based wagering service providers where they can participate in wagering in a well regulated environment avoiding the significant dangers that exist from wagering with illegal offshore operators.”
However, the duo is hoping to seize on the recent tight election result that gave the centre-right and conservative government a skinny majority in the lower house to put gambling reforms at the forefront of the agenda.
“This first and foremost is a human story,” said Xenophon. “Every one of those problem gamblers is a mum or a dad or brother or sister or son or a daughter or friend or work colleague. It can be solved to a large degree by this parliament and with a prime minister who has previously been on the record in favor of gambling reform.”