Gambling Review Must Include Legal Online Operations - NFP
10 September 2015 at 4:37 pm
Not for Profit peak body, Financial Counselling Australia, has welcomed a Government inquiry into interactive gambling laws, but warned that the terms of reference have failed to address the damage that legal online gambling companies are causing.
Policy Manager for Financial Counselling Australia, Lauren Levin, said the review needed to be expanded to include the activities of legal onshore operators – many of these companies are overseas owned, but operate in Australia.
“If we are going to have a review of gambling regulation it should not just do half the job,” Levin said.
Levin said a recent report by FCA called Duds, Mugs & the A-List: the Impact of Uncontrolled Sports Betting showed that some Australian men are losing devastating amounts of their super, retrenchment payments, life savings, and money meant to pay their families’ mortgages and household expenses.
“Further, the ease of unregulated credit for gambling means that gamblers are not betting within their means, and becoming indebted to the gambling companies, credit card providers, family members and even payday lenders,” she said.
“What we’ve seen is a ruthless debt collection process, where people can go from ‘bet to bankruptcy’ within a few weeks. Financial counsellors get calls from spouses trying to protect their joint assets from the debt collectors.
“There is nothing resembling harmless entertainment, from what we see at the financial counselling end – all with legal online sports betting companies operating right here in Australia.
“All the big companies that we see on TV advertising are making their not insignificant profits out of the losses and debts of professional Australians, young men, older men, working men, and retired men. And each of those men has people around them whose lives are impacted.
“Financial counsellors are seeing a tsunami of harm – and although pokies still account for most of the harm in monetary terms, what we’re seeing in sports betting is the new frontier of harm.”
Levin said it is a “real shame" that sports betting advertising was removed from the terms of reference of the review.
“The government has the power to tackle a form of advertising which most Australians deplore intruding into their living rooms, and everyone hates exposing children to the language of odds,” she said.
“We agree with the Minister that, the integrity of racing and sports in Australia is important, but the well-being of Australian families is even more important.
“Whether punters are losing money to illegal betting companies overseas or lose it to a legal betting company here, really doesn’t matter – in both cases, the damage is playing out in Australia to Australians.”
The Government said the review will be carried out by former NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and be supported by a secretariat in the Department of Social Services. There will also be a call for public submissions.
The Review will report by 18 December, 2015.