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Political integrity reform must tackle donations: Gambling’s $50m in donations shows our rotten system

23 May 2022

The groundswell for greater political integrity in Australian politics must as a priority tackle our rotten system of political donations, according to the chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello.

The gambling industry has poured $50 million into political donations at the Commonwealth level in the last decade and it was recently revealed another $18 million was donated in just a few years to state and territories.

“The fact that gambling and particularly sports betting, was not a major focus of this campaign simply underscores the power the gambling industry has bought from our political leaders. But now we have a unique opportunity for change,” Rev Costello said. “A number of the ‘Teal Independents’ have highlighted to me their deep concern for both reforming political donations and tackling the harm gambling causes. “Women have roared this election and it is they who are most concerned about protecting their children from the blanket coverage of sports betting ads that bombard us every day.”

Rev Costello called on the new Albanese Labor Government to act on his commitment to a Federal political integrity commission but to also ensure there is reform of political donations.

He also called for strong, long-overdue action to ban sports gambling advertising across all broadcast platforms. Rev Costello said the ALP would be strongly supported in these reforms by many new faces on the crossbenches in Federal Parliament in the wake of the Teal-wave on election day.

He said the community was crying out for reform on sports betting.

“This is a message our political leaders must heed. We must stop the avalanche of ads that glamorise and normalise sport and gambling in Australia,” Rev. Costello said “The industry is increasingly aggressive and will not self-regulate.”

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s election policy platform calls for bans on donations from any gambling license holder, including Board or committee members or gambling license holders or their peak bodies to political parties and candidate.

It also calls for a ban on all sports gambling advertising on television, radio and online.

Mr Costello said beyond sports gambling reform Australia urgently needed other reforms to protect the community against the harms of gambling such as the creation of a national casino regulator and online gambling ombudsman.

The last two years have seen a series of unparalleled judicial inquiries into casinos in Australia. They have revealed a consistent failure both of self-regulation and also state government regulation of casinos. A similar problem exists with online gambling.

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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