Aussie Gambling Taskforce Demands Action

Australian’s Guardian newspaper published an article about a coalition that is planning to do away with the national gambling regulator and replace it with an advisory council made up of representatives from the gaming industry. The plan depends on whether the coalition is victorious during the next election. The coalition would also stop the pre-commitment program that requires punters to have a spending limit set when playing pokie machines at online gaming sites.

The coalition’s proposals have garnered support from the support of Clubs Australia which represents many gambling venues in Oz. The coalition says it supports a “national voluntary pre-commitment program for electronic gaming machine.” The coalition also accused the ruling Labour government of doing little to address problem gambling after they said they would delegate the responsibility for problem gambling support services to the states.

A spokesman for A Clubs stated “The Coalition’s approach recognizes the work already done and reflects the reality that policies based on proper consultation and consideration work better for problem gamblers than those that are the product of hasty political deals.” Current estimates say there are about half a million. Rumors say the current government is having trouble dealing with the $12 billion spent on pokies by Australians every year. Some in the gambling industry say that putting the industry in a self-governing position and is made responsible for all problem gambling could be worrisome for gambling reform advocates.

Dr.Colin McLeod, a senior fellow at the University of Melbourne, stated “It’s just bizarre to put the gambling industry in charge of the advisory group,” continuing, “What you’re asking the industry to do is to find ways to curtail the spending of its most profitable customers.” McLeod added “We have got to start thinking about problem gambling as public health problem,” adding, “You go to any sporting match and there is a huge amount of advertising for gambling. It has become so intrusive in Australians’ lives.”

For months the Australian government has been under pressure to reign in gambling in the country. The church is applying intense pressure on MP’s and government officials. An article in the Economist recently revealed that Australians are the most prolific gamblers on the planet. Reverend Tim Costello now the Chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce has been trying to increase consumer protections for gamblers for over a decade. It looks like addressing the problem will be harder than first thought.