Lisa Cheban | 04 July, 2023 12:39 | Last update on: 04 July, 2023 12:39
As advocates continue urging the federal government to swing into action and enact gambling regulations, a new study revealed some worrying trends. This is after the Alliance for Gambling Reform released a report showing that Australia is lagging behind other countries, predominantly European nations, regarding regulating the online gambling and betting scene.
The new research shows that the country trails its peers in regulating gambling commercials and online gambling activities. It lists European countries such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain as examples.
For instance, in 2021, Germany banned TV, radio, and internet advertisements of online casinos, virtual slot machines, and poker rooms between 06:00 and 21:00. Additionally, the European nation directed all regulated operators to impose a monthly deposit cap of A$1,640/€1,000 for all gambling-related activities on their platforms.
While the report is being released, Australians are eagerly awaiting the findings of a parliamentary investigation into online gambling and its harms in the coming days. According to the committee leader, they will consider what other regulated jurisdictions are doing right to reduce problem gambling before writing a conclusion.
Commenting on their new findings, Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett said Australia’s efforts to curb minor-targeted advertising, products, and internet gambling have been underwhelming.
The CEO told Guardian Australia: “It’s at a time when the community is really screaming out for some change in this area. They’ve now started implementing and putting in place the things that are way overdue, long overdue. We’re playing catch-up.”
The ruling Labor party has been showing signs of responding to these calls since forming the government last year. A good case study is the self-exclusion program, BetStop, which the government expects to roll out any time soon. The party has also banned using credit cards for online gambling and classified lootbox games as M15+. But sadly, the government is yet to implement any of these proposals.
At the same time, ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) told the Senate last week that BetStop’s deployment had been delayed since the end of March because the company contracted to implement it went bankrupt. The regulator, however, assured the nation that they are in talks with another firm to complete the project.
The body has recently banned multiple illegal offshore operators as it aims to protect Australians from the unregulated market. Last month, the regulator advised local ISPs (internet service providers) to ban three more offshore sites, taking the total number of blocked sites in the country to 700+.
Bennett said the lack of adequate regulations had left a loophole for operators to target young persons with gambling-like games like poker machines. She added: “Parents with kids that are accessing [these] games are seeing that these games are no longer just innocent fun, that they’re actually starting to incorporate elements of gambling because they grooming the next generation of losers.”