Australian Gambling Report Asks Federal Government to Control

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:

The Australian Productivity report on gaming and gambling has come out, but relax - it's not all bad news.

A report tells the Aussie federal government to basically take over the regulation of gambling, which Australians spend $18 billion a year on, states collecting $4.69bn in tax revenue annually, and that's only the figures they know about.

Education think tank powerhouses at Deakin University and the Australia Institute, urge the Rudd government to put a 2 per cent tax on all gambling revenue. Furthermore, using some of the $378 million to give state governments that reduce gambling levels "incentive payments" (not a bribe of sorts?!) to reduce their "reliance" on pokies tax.

The report argues that the land down under Australia should establish a national gambling regulator that would set poker machine quotas and bet limits. They also call for the establishment of a national (not-for-profit) lottery to replace revenue states would lose. North and South Carolina has the Education Lottery, which gambling and wrestling fans will be aware of 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair fronting.

The Aussie reports goes as far to state the commonwealth should establish a national player tracking system to detect "abnormal or risky playing patterns".

Associate Professor Hancock said problem gambling was a serious health risk. "This whole approach . . . needs to be a central plank in the Rudd government's health plan," she stressed.

Media Man and Gambling911 acknowledge the existence of "problem gamblers", but in society many people have problems, be it gambling, employment, relationships, health, time management and all sorts of matter, so it does point an accusing finger at the gaming and gambling sector. Some types of personalities are more likely to encounter problems with gambling, and that's just part of the human make up.

Some serious and concerning information was also included in the report.  In the state of Victoria, one in five people arriving at The Alfred Hospital's emergency unit after suicide attempts were gamblers in crisis, Professor Hancock said. A high profile U.S. gambler here in the states may have also committed suicide due to high gambling debts.

Some Australian politicians are buying right into the argument. Well known anti-pokies campaigner and independent senator Nick Xenophon advised he was inspired to run for federal politics because Kevin Rudd said he would act against gambling.

"Can I suggest to the Prime Minister that now the emissions trading scheme is off the agenda, there's a lot more time in the Senate to consider legislation," Senator Xenophon said.

"State governments are the No 1 jackpot junkies. They can't be trusted when it comes to gambling regulation. And despite his promise to deal with gambling, the Prime Minister had done nothing to reduce rates".

Labor clubs operating "one armed bandits" provide the Labor Party with $1m plus in campaign donations per annum.

Mr Rudd pledged to do something about the rise of poker machines across the country.

"I hate poker machines and I know something of their impact on families," he said.

The Productivity Commission draft report on gambling late last year recommended that pokie bets be restricted to $1 a play, and cash withdrawal limits should be placed on adjacent ATMs.

The report states Australians lost $18bn a year on gambling, and about 15% of Aussies gambled regularly (excluding Lotto), scratchies and the like.

Its estimated 10% of regular gamblers are "problem gamblers".

The new report says the commonwealth should add to the "Grants Commission formula incentives" for state governments to reduce their reliance on gambling taxes or reduce their commonwealth grants if they did not do so.

At present much discussion in the gaming and igaming sector revolves around if full regulation of the sector, both globally and in the Asia Pacific region is the way forward, with the vast majority saying Yes.

Media Man and Gambling911 encourage gamblers to know the odds, bet with your head, not over it, and have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a bakers dozen of sectors they cover.

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