Gambling Reform Alliance Says TV Networks Won’t Pay a Penny
19 July 2016 at 11:20 am
The Alliance for Gambling Reform, with independent crossbenchers Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie, will push to ban sports-betting advertising without offsiding television networks by offering them a dollar-for-dollar licence reduction.
Director of strategy for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Rohan Wenn revealed the plan to Pro Bono Australia News after The Australian reported on Monday that the networks were railing against the threat to their $120 million revenue source.
“The alliance’s beef is not with the TV networks. Seven and Nine are as old as television itself in Australia. They are a public good. So, as we transition away from sports-betting advertising, we need to make sure it doesn’t hurt the networks millions of Australians rely on, and love,” Wenn said.
“The alliance supports a gradual phase out of sports-betting advertising that won’t impact on the networks.
“This would most likely involve a dollar for dollar reduction in commercial TV licences. So for every gambling dollar a network stops taking, their commercial TV license fee to the Commonwealth Government would go down a dollar.
“This would make the phase-out cost neutral for the networks and if treasury felt the need to make up any shortfall they could simply levy the gambling companies that we all loathe, so much. Ultimately, the gambling companies created this mess, so they should pay to clean it up. The taxpayers, and the networks should not be hurt by these important public health reforms.”
The alliance, led by Tim Costello and made up largely of Not for Profits, advocacy organisations and local councils, is fighting legislation which allows gambling ads to be shown during G-rated timeslots if it is part of a sports broadcast.
“Sports-betting advertising is grooming the next generation of problem gamblers,” Wenn said.
“When kids quote gambling odds more readily than player stats, clearly something is wrong.
“This is an adult practice, this is an adult habit, an adult industry and it shouldn’t be advertised to kids, because it normalises sports betting.”
He said the alliance were working with Xenophon and Wilkie, who will push for reform in both houses during Parliament’s first sitting week.
“Nick and Andrew have been aggressively targeting this problem for a very long time, and very effectively targeting this problem for a very long time, and previously when they tried to get reform up they did very well,” he said.
“But one of the biggest problems they had was it was very hard to put a collective voice and a community voice to this and a grassroots political voice to this, and that’s where the alliance comes in. The alliance is here to try to give a voice to the people who have been harmed by poker machines, but also to explain the impact the gambling industry is having in society more generally.”
Wenn said the power of independents in this Parliament could get the legislation across the line.
“The composition of the new Parliament is proof that politics is changing rapidly. Voters clearly realise they haven’t been served well by the dominance of Labor and the Coalition,” he said.
“People are tired of being told to choose between Pepsi or Coke. Sometimes they don’t want a cola. Sometimes they might want an orange juice, or just plain water.
“The alliance exists to represent the 80 per cent plus Australians who want gambling harm significantly reduced.
“And in the absence of leadership from the major parties, the people are looking to the alliance, as well as to sensible cross-bench Senators and MPs, who are keen to do what needs to be done.”
While sports-betting ads will be the first reform focus, the alliance said it would also heavily target pokies.
“Poker machines are by far the most damaging form of gambling in Australia, making up around 75 per cent of gambling harm, so the alliance will focus on that, politically and through litigation,” Wenn said.
Wilkie and Xenophon will push for a Joint Select Committee on gambling reform, which includes legislation for maximum $1 bets on poker machines.