Australia Considers Full Gambling Ad Ban After Report

Australia is considering the possibility of implementing a complete ban on gambling ads within the next three years. This comes after a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling recommended a phased ban across all forms of media. 

The House of Representatives committee conducted an inquiry into online gambling’s effects on problem gamblers, resulting in a report outlining 31 reform recommendations for the gambling sector in Australia. If these measures are implemented, they would bring about significant changes to the country’s online gambling regulatory framework.

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Committee recommends Australia ban gambling ads

The committee’s key proposition entails a comprehensive prohibition on gambling advertisements across both broadcast media and online platforms, leaving no room for exploitable loopholes. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed the government’s intention to carefully assess the recommendations put forth by the committee. The committee strongly denounced the rapid increase of online gambling advertising.

The deliberate and strategic integration of online gambling with sports has resulted in its normalisation as a harmless and leisurely pursuit associated with popular recreational activities. However, this advertising approach is effectively grooming children and young individuals, enticing them to partake in gambling and fostering a culture of riskier behaviour. The overwhelming volume of gambling advertisements presents an inescapable presence that manipulates an impressionable and vulnerable audience, luring them into the world of online gambling.

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Free Movement of Goods and Services

In response to the report, Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), a trade body representing major gaming operators in the country, voiced concerns about a potential blanket ban, considering it to be excessive. In a statement, the organisation called for a balanced approach to the committee’s report. RWA CEO Kai Cantwell argued that the recommended advertising ban failed to take into account the evidence presented during the committee’s hearings.

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Other measures recommended by the committee

Whilst RWA members, broadcasters, and major sporting codes recognise the community’s growing desire for reduced gambling advertising,” Cantwell stated, “blanket bans, even if phased in, are short-sighted, ineffective, and not the long-term solution. Strict measures such as blanket bans and the prohibition of inducements, such as bonus bets, often prove inadequate in addressing problem gambling, leading Australians to turn to illegal offshore markets in search of alternatives.

In its recommendations, the committee put forth additional measures that aim to bring about a notable overhaul in the landscape of online gambling in Australia. According to their proposals, the federal government would take charge of regulating and licensing, whilst the individual states would retain their duty of imposing consumption taxes on online gambling activities. Moreover, the report emphasised the necessity of appointing a dedicated government minister to spearhead the development of a national strategy focused on mitigating the harm caused by online gambling.

These measures are complemented by the establishment of an online gambling ombudsman, a compelling public education campaign, the introduction of a harm reduction levy applicable to all online operators, and a stringent crackdown on unlicensed operators. Collectively, these initiatives seek to enhance player protection, promote responsible gambling practices, and ensure the integrity and fairness of online gambling platforms.

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Gambling Harm Should Be Treated As a Public Health Issue

In May, RWA released a report in collaboration with H2 Gambling Capital, which highlighted that unlicensed operators could result in AU$3.35 billion (NZ$ 3.65b) in lost tax revenue for Australians. The committee also recommended stronger consumer protection requirements for online gambling, new know your customer (KYC) obligations for gaming operators, a ban on inducements, and the enforcement of a legal duty of care for businesses that are active in the online casino industry.

“We have a weak and fragmented regulatory framework which places the responsibility for reducing harm solely on the individual who gambles.” Despite gambling harm being a significant public health issue, it is not yet treated as such. Instead, our policies and regulations promote the concept of “responsible gambling,” which absolves online wagering service providers of much of the responsibility for the harm caused by their products. In 2022, online operators in Australia contributed AU$1.60 billion (NZ$ 1.74b) in tax revenue.”

Peta Murphy, MP Federal Member for Dunkley

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