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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Gambling reforms to be wound back

On the 20 November 2013, the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews introduced the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 to the House of Representatives. Among a host of amendments to various social welfare, higher education and income support arrangements, the Bill proposes to significantly wind back national gambling reforms that were intended to address problem gambling associated with electronic gaming machines (EGMs), or pokies.The National Gambling Reform Act 2012 will be renamed the National Gambling Measures Act, with a shift in emphasis to encouraging responsible gambling. When the Act was passed in November 2012, it established a national regulatory regim... Read more...

Addressing harms from pokies: insights from new reports

Some recent reports are reminders that addressing problem gambling harms associated with electronic gaming machines or pokies remains challenging, but progress is possible. The first report evaluates the decision to ban Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) from pokies venues in Victoria. The second quantifies the harms of pokies gambling in Victoria, prior to the removal of ATMs, while the third summarises lessons learnt from pre-commitment trials in South Australia.The first report is an evaluation of the Victorian Government decision to remove ATMs from pokie venues. From July 2012, venues in Victoria were required to remove their ATM dispensers—EFTPOS facilities remained unchanged. The ratio... Read more...

Regulation of gambling advertising on TV - Live Odds and ACMA

On 26 May 2013, the Prime Minister promisedthat ‘all promotions of odds by gambling companies and commentators will be banned during the broadcast of live sports matches, under new rules’. The Government has demanded that Australian commercial TV broadcasters amend their codes to ensure a reduction in the promotion and advertising of gambling—especially live odds—during broadcasts of sport. Codes of PracticeSection 123 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) provides that a ‘Code of Practice’ may be developed by a group representing a particular section of the broadcasting industry. An industry body, FreeTV,performs this role for commercial television operators and has developed the ... Read more...

Match-fixing: the Australian legislative response

The Australian Crime Commission Report into Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport raised the issue of the increasing level of association between professional athletes and organised criminal identities in Australia, leaving individual athletes vulnerable to corrupt practices such as match-fixing. One of the key findings is that the threat to the integrity of Australian sport is an emerging and critical issue which must be addressed now.In the wake of the South Australian and now Victorian Governments introducing bills to directly criminalise match-fixing, what is the rest of the country doing?‘On 10 June 2011, all Australian sports ministers endorsed on behalf of their governments, a National P... Read more...

Socioeconomic dimensions of pokie machine losses

A recent Age article has highlighted the disproportionate financial losses incurred from pokie machine gambling in low income areas of Victoria, when compared to higher income areas. Using statistics from the Victorian regulator the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), Craig Butt compared net weekly expenditure per adult (ie player losses) on pokies across local government areas (LGAs), with the average weekly income of those LGAs based on census data provided to the Age.In 2010–11 in Greater Dandenong, where average weekly income was reported to be $426, pokie losses were $1110 per adult. In wealthier Boroondara where average income was $836 per week average loss... Read more...

Draft legislation on pokies reform released

  The Government on Friday released draft legislation on proposed reforms to address problem gambling, particularly related to electronic gaming machines (EGMs, or pokies). The release comes at the same time Clubs ACT have reportedly given in principle agreement to a trial of mandatory pre-commitment technology on EGMs in clubs in the ACT, pending further negotiations with the Government. The draft legislation does not address this pokies trial; rather it proposes technical modifications to EGMs to enable pre-commitment technology, a time frame for these changes, limits to cash in pokie venues and the introduction of new levies. Implementation of a uniform mandatory pre-commitment system a... Read more...

Mandatory pre-commitment: no dice yet

The government announced last Saturday that due to a lack of Parliamentary support it would not proceed with legislation to require mandatory pre-commitment (MPC) on electronic gaming machines (EGMs). Instead it announced a trial of MPC in the ACT to test its effectiveness before committing to proceed down this path nationally, and introduce a raft of other measures to tackle problem gambling. In response Independent MP Mr Wilkie, whose ongoing support for the government required the introduction and successful passage of legislation implementing MPC by May 2012, announced he had withdrawn his support for the government. The announcement by the government to not proceed with MPC nationally w... Read more...

Electronic gaming machines: lessons from Norway

In recent months both sides in the contentious debate around mandatory pre-commitment (MPC)—where players would have to pre-set the amount they were prepared to lose on electronic gaming machines (EGMs)—have cited 'evidence' from Norway to support their respective arguments. As this Parliamentary Library Background Note explains, supporters of MPC have pointed to Norway to argue in favour of MPC. Meanwhile, those opposed to MPC, including those in the clubs industry, argue that the evidence from Norway shows that MPC won't work. How can the same evidence be used to support opposite sides of the argument?Norway banned EGMs in July 2007 in response to ongoing concerns over the harms from probl... Read more...

How many venues would be affected if mandatory pre-commitment is implemented in 2012?

  A significant proportion of gaming venues will be exempt from the proposed reforms to electronic gaming machines (EGMs), at least until 2018. Mr Wilkie's proposal is for venues to introduce mandatory pre-commitment on high intensity EGMs or deploy low intensity machines which have been configured to limit losses to around $120 per hour (or a combination of the two). But the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform Committee Mr Wilkie chaired on the proposed mandatory pre-commitment scheme also recommended (see recommendations 39 & 40 of the Committee's report) that venues with 15 or fewer machines, and those in rural and regional Australia, be exempt from this requirement until ... Read more...

Is counselling for pokie addiction an effective harm minimisation measure?

At a rally at the Canterbury RSL in western Sydney on Tuesday evening, the opposition leader Tony Abbott predicted a future Coalition government would rescind any legislation that introduces mandatory pre-commitment on electronic gaming machines (EGMs). Instead of mandatory pre-commitment, he suggested a greater focus on individual counselling for problem gamblers is needed.If the opposition leader's support for counselling results in more funding for such services, many who provide help to Australia's estimated 95,000 EGM problem gamblers and their families will probably welcome it. But the efficacy of counselling as a harm minimisation measure is questionable; it is not clear that increase... Read more...