Gambling reform ongoing, PM says, despite no ad ban

Andrew Brown |

The betting industry is accused of grooming young people through partnerships with sport.
The betting industry is accused of grooming young people through partnerships with sport.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has conceded more needs to be done to address problem gambling but rebuffed suggestions the government is ignoring calls to ban betting ads.

One year after a landmark review that called for betting ads to be phased out, crossbench MPs renewed demands for the advertising to be banned altogether.

South Australian MP Rebekha Sharkie put forward laws to federal parliament on Monday to implement the advertising ban, saying a lack of government action since the review was handed down was contributing to social harm.

“The industry is grooming children and young people through partnerships with sport, but in the intervening 12 months, there has been very little conversation and very, very little action,” she told parliament on Monday.

“I had hoped against hope, for a strong and decisive government that would take this report and action the recommendations (and) so do presumably seven-out-of-10 Australians who want to see better regulation and support and a ban on gambling advertising.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time
Anthony Albanese has pointed to efforts to reduce gambling harm, such as a self-exclusion register. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The gambling review, led by the late Labor MP Peta Murphy, made 31 recommendations, with the centrepiece being a three-year phase out of gambling ads to allow sporting codes to find replacement revenue.

But Mr Albanese said the government was still working through the gambling review’s findings to ensure it was done properly.

“We recognise that what we need to do is more in this area but we want to make sure we get it right,” he told parliament.

“(The communications minister) is working through all 31 recommendations that are in the report, making sure that relevant consultation occur with stakeholders, including harm reduction advocates and industry.

“We will continue to work through each of the recommendations which are there.”

Mr Albanese pointed to efforts to reduce gambling harm, including setting up a national self-exclusion register, which had 24,000 people sign up to in its first nine months.

Heritage Bank Stadium on the Gold Coast
The report suggested gambling ads be phased out to allow sporting codes to find other sponsors. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

But Ms Sharkie said the ban needed to be implemented immediately.

“The minister’s lack of action, I think, is embarrassing,” she said.

“This has gone too far. The situation is dire. Regulations are lax, and yet government is really doing very, very little to police this industry.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie also criticised the delay in imposing an advertising ban.

“It’s entirely unacceptable that an entire year has passed, almost to the day, and the government still hasn’t responded to the report or enacted any meaningful reforms to combat gambling advertising.”

“It’s way beyond time the government stopped kowtowing to the gambling industry as well as the big media companies, the sporting codes, and instead focus on protecting Australians from such predatory industries.”