Last year, thanks to a federal government investigation of online gambling, advocacy groups, gambling companies, and people who were affected by gambling addiction were requested to give their opinion on the ways the gambling sector in Australia was regulated.
Ever since the gambling industry has been going through thorough assessments, one of the biggest issues concerning the regulation of the sector has been the effectiveness of interventions combating problem gambling and whether they have been implemented responsibly. The public hearings in Canberra resumed on Tuesday, with several politicians, researchers as well as advertisement entities being called to present their submissions.
Gambling Companies in Australia Criticised for the Lack of Proper Gambling Harm Prevention Measures
The severity of the problem gambling issues in Australia is no surprise as Ausies rank as some of the biggest gamblers worldwide, with the country also being the home of the biggest losers in the world a few years back.
Although the government has introduced harsher regulatory measures, like the strict limitations on gambling ads presented to underage viewers, the increasing popularity of virtual gambling has brought new changes to the gambling field in Australia.
Based on results from a recent report conducted by Central Queensland University, it was revealed that the number of online gamblers experiencing problem gambling was three times higher than the number of pokie players showing problem gambling behaviour. To differentiate the two groups of gamblers, the study considered individuals who have been gambling both through apps and the Internet as online gamblers.
Some advocates were urging the government to pay close attention to betting and gaming companies and the way they were conducting their due diligence. People with personal experience with problem gambling reported the lack of measures taken by operators to prevent or minimise gambling-related harm. Those affected by gambling complained about the lack of steps like asking about the source of funds proof or contacting players who were clearly showing signs of problem gambling.
Barriers for Self-Exclusion and Easily-Cheated Gambling Exclusion Systems Create More Gambling Harm
A few of the stakeholders and organisations, which were called at the hearing on Tuesday, were advocating that the extensive amount of freedom given to Australian gambling operators was directly harming people who were experiencing gambling problems and gambling addiction. According to the submission of Relationship Australia, creating high barriers for individuals who wished to voluntarily restrain themselves from gambling was a problem.
There have been several reports of gamblers who have reduced or even taken some time off gambling receiving promotional emails and other types of notifications, prompting them to resume their gambling activities and redeem bigger incentives.
Until recently, betting and gaming companies were required to display the message “gamble responsibly” but in November of last year, the Albanese government introduced a new change to that requirement, forcing gambling operators to display new types of warning taglines related to problem gambling prevention.
According to campaigners, another problem that needs to be revised is the easily cheated self-exclusion system in Australia. Most gambling entities in the country are operating under licences issued by the racing commission in the Northern Territory. Betting operators who have been registered with the licensing body are required to offer their customers the self-exclusion option. In its submission to the inquiry, the NT commission reported that many self-excluded individuals suffering from gambling addiction were able to change their details and circumvent the self-imposed gambling restrictions.
The commission agreed that gambling companies should take additional steps to prevent gambling harm and ensure better protection of vulnerable individuals. Companies participating in the inquiry called for an update of state regulations as the current measures fail to properly regulate the gambling sector in Australia. It is yet to be revealed when the final report of the committee will be published.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.