Standing up for Canberra

Gambling Reform Committee Report 2013

As the deputy chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Gambling Reform, it is a great pleasure to speak on the tabling of the committee's fifth report today. This report covered the area of advertising and promotion of gambling services in sport and a related bill.

Although the committee heard that children are not directly targeted, the committee is concerned about children being exposed to the advertising for an adult product, the messages being consumed and what effect this may have on future behaviour. It is also concerned about other vulnerable people, such as problem gamblers.

The government is well aware of the level of community concern regarding the promotion of live odds. In May 2011, the government announced that it would work with the sporting and betting industries to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during sports coverage through amendments to existing industry codes. On 29 June 2012, the minister announced an agreement had been reached with the commercial and subscription broadcasters to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during sports. Free TV and ASTRA released the proposed amendments to their codes on 22 April 2013 for public comment before 20 May. During this process, the government took additional action to respond to a level of concern in the community, and on 26 May the Prime Minister announced that live odds would be banned. In addition, all generic gambling advertisements will be banned during play. Generic advertising will only be allowed during scheduled commercial breaks, such as quarter or half time and before or after the game.

The government has indicated that it will monitor the intensity of generic gambling advertisements and, if it is found to be beyond reasonable levels, will impose a total advertising ban. The industry is on notice to respond appropriately to the level of community concern and to reflect community expectations. In case further steps become necessary, the committee noted the exemption for gambling advertising for sporting programs and recommended that this exemption be reviewed. This process will provide for appropriate consultation with the community and stakeholders and should also serve to articulate and provide greater clarity around the reasons for this exemption and whether it is meeting its intended purpose.

The committee noted the need for the industry to be part of the solution. There are other industry codes that could potentially cover this issue, and the committee recommended that government review the self-regulatory action being taken by industry with a view to legislating in this area if industry does not make appropriate changes regarding the promotion of gambling products in an environment that includes children.

The link with betting raises issues for the integrity of sport. The committee received a comprehensive briefing from the Australian Crime Commission about the infiltration of sport by organised crime. While the ACC has not conducted specific indepth analysis of the relationship between organised crime and online gambling, it has nonetheless identified vulnerabilities for the sector, through its broader work on methodologies used by organised crime. The committee was pleased to hear general acknowledgement that the integrity of sport is the overriding concern and that action is underway by the stakeholders to put in place processes to strengthen the environment against organised crime. The committee acknowledges the role of the betting agencies here to alert authorities to irregular betting. I note that in October 2012 the government established the National Integrity of Sport Unit, and it is currently working with sporting codes, the betting industry, state and territory regulators, and justice and law enforcement agencies to ensure that sports have the systems in place to monitor and report on players' and officials' activities; that sporting codes have education programs in place to prevent match fixing; that a betting industry standard for information exchange is developed; that there is a national approach to regulation; that there is consistent criminal legislation being implemented; and that a rapid, nationally coordinated response is available, assisting sports codes experiencing integrity issues. Safeguarding the integrity of sport in Australia is of utmost importance, and the committee supports the current work underway. The committee also noted the importance of ensuring that amateur sport has the resources and tools available to increase awareness by participants of the risks and threats to the integrity of their sport.

It has again been a privilege to be the deputy chair of this committee and to see the tabling of its fifth report. I want to thank the member for Denison for very capably chairing the committee and for running the inquiry very smoothly. I would also take the opportunity to thank the secretariat for their exceptional work. I also thank all those who contributed to the inquiry and I commend the report to the House.

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