Aussie Pols Call for $1 Pokie Limits and Ban on TV Gambling Ads

Posted on: July 16, 2016, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: July 16, 2016, 03:41h.

Nick Xenophon calls for pokie and gambling ad reforms
Senator Nick Xenophon said that Australia’s parents are concerned by their children talking about odds rather than the game, a condition he puts down to excessive gambling advertising during sports broadcasts. (Image:

Australia’s pokie machines should be limited to $1 per spin, while gambling advertising during sports broadcasts that could be viewed by minors must be banned, say two influential Australian politicians.

Longtime gambling opponents Senator Nick Xenophon and Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie are demanding tighter regulation of Australia’s gambling industry, in a country where there is increasing cause for concern about the gambling habits of its citizens.

The proliferation of pokies, or slots, as they are known elsewhere, is a hugely controversial issue in Australia, and with good reason.

There are five time more slot machines in the country, per capita, than there are in the US, and meanwhile, recent studies have shown that Australians spend more per head on gambling than any other country in the world; twice as much as in the US and three times as much as in the UK.

In the last 12 months, the growth of gambling has outpaced the growth of the Australian economy by 100 percent, while Australians plow around AU$11 billion into pokie machines annually.

Turnbull U-turn

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government has recently moved to ban in-play online betting in the country, more comprehensive reforms have been opposed by the influential Clubs Australia, an industry body representing 6,500 licensed social clubs across Australia, all of which rely on revenue from gambling.

Turnbull, who had previously supported reform, now says it’s up to the governments of the Australia’s states and territories to decide their own gambling laws. But Xenophon and Wilkie believe he is fudging the issue.

“We will be planning a whole series of measures, both in the parliament and outside the parliament, to deal with the issue of gambling reform and, in particular, one issue that has resonated throughout the community and that is on the issue of sports betting advertising,” said Xenophon in parliament this week.

“So many parents have approached all of us to say they are appalled their kids are talking about … the odds of a game rather than the game itself.”

Untrustworthy Regulators

Wilkie added that the states had so far proved themselves to be “untrustworthy” regulators, which meant that there was a strong case for federal intervention.

“The case is compelling, and it is very, very sad that up until now, parliamentarians have not seemed to care enough about the hurt caused by problem gambling; that parliamentarians have been happy to be completely out of step with the vast majority of the members of the community who want strong reform,” said Wilkie.