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Tackling problem gambling in Australia



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PRIME MINISTER

MINISTER FOR FAMILIES, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

MINISTER FOR BROADBAND, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES

TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

The Gillard Government today announced its plan to tackle problem gambling, helping the five million Australians affected by problem gambling in this country.

This plan means the Gillard Government will do more to tackle problem gambling than any Commonwealth Government in Australia’s history.

The Government will act to:

• Undertake a large scale trial of mandatory pre-commitment; • Expand pre-commitment technology to every poker machine across the country, that could then be used for mandatory pre-commitment if it is supported by a trial.

Rolling the technology out to every machine now ensures that we will be ready to flick the switch to a best-practice mandatory pre-commitment system, if the trial results support it.

We believe this evidence-based pathway to help problem gamblers and their families will gain the necessary support to pass the current Parliament.

It is our intention to introduce legislation in the first Parliamentary session of this year which will require that:

• All new poker machines manufactured from 2013 must be capable of supporting pre-commitment; and • By 31 December 2016 all poker machines must be part of a state linked pre-commitment system, except eligible small venues which will have longer.

We will also continue to work on pre-commitment technology through the COAG Select Council on Gaming Reform. At this forum in May last year, state and territory gaming ministers agreed to support the required infrastructure for pre-commitment technology in all jurisdictions.

The Gillard Government understands that many Australians enjoy gambling responsibly. But for others it can have devastating consequences.

Problem gambling ruins lives.

That’s why in November 2008 we asked the Productivity Commission to inquire into problem gambling in Australia.

The Productivity Commission found that problem gambling affects up to five million Australians, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.

These far reaching impacts are why the Australian Government is delivering genuine, long-lasting reforms to help problem gamblers and their families.

The Government is also taking a range of other actions to support problem gamblers and their families including:

• Introducing a $250 daily withdrawal limit from ATMs in gaming venues (excluding casinos) by 1 February 2013; • Electronic warnings and cost of play displays on poker machines by 2016; • Additional counselling support with 50 new financial counsellors to work with

problem gamblers, and expanding the reach of Gambling Help Online; • Strengthening self-exclusion arrangements; and • Improving training for staff in pokies venues.

Further, the Government recognises that gambling online and sports betting are a growing concern, and we will:

• Ban the promotion of live odds during sports coverage; • Extend pre-commitment to online betting services; • Crack down on online sports betting companies offering credit and introduce stricter limits on betting inducements; and

• Increase the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to enforce these new rules.

The actions the Gillard Government is taking will be the most significant and far reaching national reforms to tackle problem gambling ever seen in this country.

MELBOURNE 21 JANUARY 2012

PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744 MINISTER MACKLIN’S OFFICE 0417 297 157 MINISTER CONROY’S OFFICE 0408 258 457 MINISTER SHORTEN’S OFFICE 0413 513 306

FACT SHEET TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

FACT SHEET | PRE-COMMITMENT TECHNOLOGY 1

PRE-COMMITMENT TECHNOLOGY

In May 2011 all governments agreed to implement the infrastructure for pre-commitment on every poker machine in Australia.

The Gillard Government is now setting a timetable for this major reform so that by the end of 2016 Australia will be mandatory pre-commitment ready.

This timeline is consistent with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations and means that pre-commitment will be rolled out to all venues with pokies, including clubs, pubs and casinos.

It is important we start rolling out the infrastructure for pre-commitment now, while continuing to build the evidence base for mandatory pre-commitment through a robust trial.

Dynamic warnings and cost of play displays on poker machines - currently being developed and trialled -- will also be introduced on the same timetable.

The Gillard Government plans to sponsor a large-scale trial to build the evidence base for mandatory pre-commitment.

We have made a substantive financial offer to ClubsACT and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government to conduct a 12 month trial in the ACT beginning in February 2013.

We expect that the ACT Government and the industry will support this trial.

As recommended by the Productivity Commission, the trial will test the operational features of mandatory pre-commitment, and assess whether mandatory pre-commitment delivers stronger benefits to communities and individuals than voluntary pre-commitment.

The trial will assess the impacts on problem gamblers, recreational gamblers, venues and communities.

The trial will conclude in early 2014 and will be rigorously evaluated by an independent research institution.

In addition, the Government will legislate for an independent review of the trial results by the Productivity Commission.

This review will be completed by August 2014 and will include recommendations to the Government on whether to flick the switch to mandatory pre-commitment.

The review will be required to be tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament, and the legislation will require the Government to respond within three months.

The Government will establish an Oversight Committee for the trial, with representatives from the industry, ACT Government, community sector and researchers.

This is a best practice approach to implementing a significant change to the way poker machines operate in Australia.

FACT SHEET TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

FACT SHEET | PRE-COMMITMENT TECHNOLOGY 2

The Australian Government recognises that many states have taken strong steps to support pre-commitment in their own jurisdiction.

The Government’s preference remains for the states and territories to deliver these changes and the legislation will allow for them to be administered by State and Territory Governments. The Government’s legislation will make it clear that Commonwealth legislation only sets minimum requirements in relation to gaming machines.

The legislation will make clear that these regulations do not alter the ability of a state or territory to determine the distribution and number of gaming machines in that jurisdiction.

We will also work closely with industry on pre-commitment solutions that are cost-effective to venues.

Recognising the special needs of small venues

The Government understands that small clubs and pubs in regional towns are not the same as large pokies venues in the cities.

We have listened to the concerns of small venues, many in our regional and rural communities, and will ensure that these venues have more time to get ready for pre-commitment.

Very small venues, with 10 poker machines or less, will be able to implement these changes as they replace their poker machines, as per their normal replacement cycle. This will remove any upfront implementation costs for these very small venues, which are often located in regional and rural communities.

Venues with between 11 and 20 poker machines will have an extra four years to implement these changes.

FACT SHEET TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

FACT SHEET | ONLINE GAMBLING & SPORTS BETTING 1

ONLINE GAMBLING & SPORTS BETTING

Extending pre-commitment to online betting

The Government is concerned about online gambling and the impact on problem gamblers in Australia.

The Government will work with the states to make pre-commitment available to account holders on online betting services.

Banning online credit

The Government will increase consumer protections including tightening rules on the provision of lines of credit, restrictions on inducements to open accounts, and protection of consumer funds.

This means that online betting agencies will not be able to offer credit to account holders, except to professional punters.

Limiting betting inducements

There will also be strict limits on the types of betting inducements that can be offered, for example paying commissions to third parties to encourage people to open accounts online.

Increasing the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

In addition to the existing criminal penalties, the Government will introduce civil penalties by way of an infringement notice provided by ACMA for breaches of the Interactive Gambling Act. Currently ACMA must refer infringements to the Australian Federal Police.

Reviewing the Interactive Gambling Act 2001

The Government is currently reviewing the Interactive Gambling Act, including examining how harm minimisation measures can be improved for online gambling services.

The Government will release the review by June 2012.

Following this, the Government will introduce legislation to amend the Act by the end of this year, to enable our current commitments and any further reforms as a result of the review.

Protecting online gamblers

The Government will work with the states and territories to introduce stronger provisions and enforcement of consumer rights to avoid a situation where a provider does not have the funds to pay out wins.

This would include ensuring companies cannot offer bets they can’t afford to pay out.

Live Odds

FACT SHEET TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

FACT SHEET | ONLINE GAMBLING & SPORTS BETTING 2

The Government is concerned that the promotion of live odds during sports coverage can significantly influence vulnerable people, particularly young people, and normalise negative gambling behaviour.

The Government is working with the sporting and betting industries to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during sports coverage through amendments to their existing industry codes.

If satisfactory amendments have not been put in place by broadcasters by the end of June 2012, the Australian Government will introduce legislation to ban the promotion of live odds in sporting broadcasts.

FACT SHEET TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

FACT SHEET | BOOSTING COUNSELLING IN SUPPORT SERVICES 1

BOOSTING COUNSELLING AND SUPPORT SERVICES

The Government is taking action to boost counselling services for problem gamblers.

We will deliver 50 new financial counsellors through the Australian Government’s financial counselling network to work with problem gamblers and help them regain control over their finances. Many problem gamblers are in severe financial difficulty by the time they seek help, and financial counsellors can help them get back on their feet.

These financial counsellors will work closely with local pokies venues and state government gambling counselling services. We will provide $26 million over four years to deliver these extra counsellors in local communities.

We will also provide an additional $300,000 to expand the reach of Gambling Help Online (www.gamblinghelponline.org.au).

This funding will enable the website to increase access for family members of problem gamblers, introduce mobile phone functionality, and make the website more accessible for people with disability.

A recent evaluation of the website found that there was strong demand for increased online counselling and support.

Strengthening self-exclusion

The Government believes that self-exclusion arrangements are an important support for problem gamblers and their families.

We will work with the states and territories and industry to develop a nationally-consistent approach to self-exclusion, including better counselling support as part of the process, consideration of third party (family member) self-exclusions and more central oversight.

Self-exclusion will also be available through the pre-commitment system rolled out across Australia and will be a key part of the trial of mandatory pre-commitment in the ACT.

This will allow players to self-exclude anonymously and on a jurisdictional wide basis (in a mandatory system) and would not rely on venues monitoring the exclusions.

Improving staff training

Staff in clubs and pubs are often at the frontline in dealing with problem gambling. The Government believes that these employees are critical in identifying and supporting problem gamblers to seek professional help.

The role of gaming venue staff will be even more important under a pre-commitment system.

FACT SHEET TACKLING PROBLEM GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA

FACT SHEET | BOOSTING COUNSELLING IN SUPPORT SERVICES 2

The Government will work with the states and territories to review and update responsible gambling training in all jurisdictions. This will include a particular focus on staff interaction with players in a pre-commitment system.

ATM withdrawal limits

The Commonwealth’s gambling legislation will also introduce a $250 per card daily ATM withdrawal limit in gaming venues (except casinos) from 1 February 2013.

The limit will not apply to EFTPOS facilities and venues in areas with limited banking facilities will be able to apply for an exemption.

The Productivity Commission found that 85 per cent of withdrawals in gaming venues are already under this limit.

This limit will not affect any State and Territory regulation that further restricts access to ATMs in gaming venues.