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Alarming loopholes in gambling credit ‘ban’ - Gambling lobbyists hold sway over our politicians

7 Dec 2023

The gambling lobby’s influence is clear in the ‘watered-down’ bill to ban gambling on credit passed by the Senate, the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said.


And it is profoundly telling that the Albanese Government and opposition would not contemplate an amendment from independent Senator David Pocock to the bill that would stop political parties from receiving political donations from gambling interests – when it accepted similar prohibitions on tobacco only earlier this week, she said.


“We are deeply disappointed with the loopholes that exist in the Governments’ bill to ban gambling on credit. Its approach, supported by the Opposition, still allows too many options for people to gamble when they cannot afford it,” Ms Bennett said.

“The legislation already – wrongly – exempts lotteries including games like Keno from the credit ban, allowing people to lose thousands of dollars every hour and stops the government from intervening when buy now pay later schemes exploit loopholes in the legislation.”


Ms Bennett said while existing buy-now, pay-later lenders have banned the use of their services for gambling, it does not mean new providers will not move into this gap – especially given the largely unregulated nature of these providers.


“This watered down legislation just shows how the powerful gambling industry is clearly able to influence the two major political parties in Australia today,” Ms Bennett said.


Yesterday, the Alliance and Transparency International Australia jointly released analysis that showed the gambling sector hired more than double the number of political lobbyists than any other adult product industry (tobacco, alcohol, pornography). 


The analysis, led by leading Melbourne University academic, Dr Jenn Lacy-Nichols, and jointly released by Transparency International Australia and the Alliance for Gambling Reform found that:


  • the gambling industry hired 13 lobbying firms nationally across all States and the ACT

  • compared with alcohol and the food and drink industry that each hired 6 firms and tobacco that hired 4 firms

  • it is estimated the 13 lobbying firms provided the gambling industry access to up to 280 individual lobbyists.


The report was highly critical of the lack of information in the Lobbyist Register administered by the Federal Attorney-General.


Lobbyists that are registered are subject only to a voluntary code of conduct and there is often no penalty for breaches. Many lobbyists are not required to be registered or to indicate who they represent. Information on who is meeting politicians and ministers is withheld, revealing little to the public about what is going on behind closed doors.


The government says it is committed to a harm reduction approach, but unlike alcohol or tobacco, there are no government employees who have a mandate to reduce gambling harm, and the government offers little funding or support to enable gambling harm reduction groups to have a voice or input into national policies.

 Carol Bennett and Clancy Moore are available for interview.

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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