A new report that resulted from a federal government commission in Australia could bring drastic changes to the country’s gambling landscape. Although the report was only just released, its suggested reforms, including a complete gambling advertising ban and a new gaming regulator, are already causing controversy.
The parliamentary report, entitled “You Win Some, You Lose More,” indicates that within a span of three years, online gambling advertisements will face a complete ban. Along with it could be the prohibition of enticing incentives like instant cash vouchers.
In addition, a regulatory regime change could arrive. Currently, each of Australia’s states and territories has control over their respective gambling laws. But the report suggests a federal regulator may be more beneficial.
Gambling Becomes Leading Enemy
During the extensive nine-month investigation that led to the report, numerous testimonies were presented. These shed light on what the government considers “detrimental consequences and societal repercussions” caused by online gambling. According to data from Finder.com, the “problem gambling” rate in Australia is less than 1% of the population.
As a result, government officials recommend a phased plan of attack. The first phase, which would begin immediately, includes a ban on gambling inducements, including credits and bonuses.
The second phase is a complete ban on online gambling advertising, as well as any commentary covering the odds of games. The ban would start an hour before the contest and run until an hour after its conclusion. It would also include an ad ban in stadiums and on player uniforms.
The third phase would prohibit all “broadcast online gambling” between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The last phase would strip out all online gambling ads and sponsorships.
If the government decides to move forward with the plan, it will roll out each phase separately, with the goal of having all phases in place within three years.
Small local media broadcasters wouldn’t experience limitations until the conclusion of 2025. The same applies to gambling ads on dedicated racing channels.
Also among the recommendations is a national online gambling regulator, as well as a national online gambling ombudsman. There would also be a federal minister put in charge of overseeing responsible gambling.
Australia seems to be increasingly afraid of allowing consumers to decide how to spend their money. Gambling opponents argue that Aussies lose more than AU$25 billion (US$16.5 billion) each year gambling.
However, Aussie gamblers and bettors are spending the money on their preferred forms of entertainment, which many wouldn’t consider a “loss.” The government also asserts that there are 6.8 million gamblers in the country, which means the average spend is just AU$3,676 (US$2,440).
In addition, that money produces jobs and revenue for the states. The same can be said for the AU$8 billion (US$5.31 billion) Australian consumers spend each year on coffee.
The report has led to mixed reactions from the consumer sector and politicians. Peter Dutton, the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, believes the recommendations are a great idea and wants the government to implement them as soon as possible.
The Public Health Association of Australia agrees. It also wants to see a quick response from the government.
Free TV Australia, an organization that represents commercial broadcasters, thinks the recommendations may go too far. Calling them the government’s “kneejerk” reaction, it cites a factor no one has considered — the ad ban means less revenue and greater restrictions for broadcasters. As a result, they may have to limit their content or make other cuts. Both are negative options that impact Australian consumers.
IAB Australia, a nonprofit trade association for the online advertising sector, also thinks the proposed changes are a bad move. It pointed out in a statement that there are already tools available to control advertising, including online ads. Instead of a complete ban, the government should probably make use of these, just like it does for other consumer segments.
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