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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1459

Senator BURSTON (New South Wales) (20:19): Different sectors of the community have differing opinions about the virtues of gambling. Regardless of your views on the topic, it is a reality and it is here to stay, for the foreseeable future at least.

Gamblers will tell you that there is nothing like the thrill of the win, and they downplay the losses, preferring to look forward to the next big win. Detractors will tell you that the act of gambling in any form is a sin and has no redeeming qualities, and neither do the gamblers who engage in it.

Whatever your opinion, we have to deal with what we have and manage the market so that those who engage in gambling are, in some cases, protected from themselves. We must also ensure that the organisations that enter the market conduct themselves in a manner that does as little harm to the gamblers as possible in the context of their interaction with them.

Traditionally, punters would go to the racetrack and place a bet with a bookie, or go to the TAB and bet on a horserace, a dog race or, more recently, some other sporting event. Now gambling has taken on a whole new complexion. If you want, you can bet on who kicks the first goal, who runs last, who is first to touch the ball and so on. We have grown to accept this myriad of options available to us, and gambling companies have grown with it.

Most of the types of gambling I just mentioned went into overdrive with the advent of online gambling. The combination of a gambler, an internet connection and an account with a gambling provider means you can bet on a football match in the USA, a horserace in Happy Valley in Hong Kong and a soccer match in the UK all from the comfort of your phone while you sit at home in downtown Newcastle.

Offshore companies that come to Australia to sell their services to punters generally register in the Northern Territory, paying $550,000 a year in licensing fees and taking approximately $8.6 billion from the community, while paying only $6.5 million in tax for the privilege. Their revenues go offshore and do not contribute to Australian society. The taxes stay in the Northern Territory, despite the revenue being gained from across Australia.

Add to this a new company from Gibraltar that allow punters to bet on the outcome of a lottery. They are registered in the Northern Territory, and their revenues are unknown at this stage, but all those revenues leave this country and put the livelihoods of 4½ thousand independent newsagents who rely on gambling revenues at risk. The company do not add value to the gambling process. They are truly parasites, who offset their risk by insuring against a punter having a win. There is no guarantee that they have the capacity if a punter should make a big win. There is no way of knowing if they will conduct themselves ethically in any situation they are not prepared to embrace.

One Nation's proposed amendment to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 calls for the banning of this particular type of operator in the gambling industry that allows punters to bet on the outcome of other lotteries or events, but it does not have any impact on other foreign companies registered in the Northern Territory.

Be under no illusion: this is a multibillion-dollar industry. The foreign companies make an absolute fortune from operations all around the world. We are not against free enterprise, nor are we against entrepreneurs making an honest dollar. I emphasise the 'honest dollar' and leave it up to you to decide what that might be. We believe that the companies that allow punters to bet on the outcome of another company's lottery are not making an honest dollar. They do not add value and are parasites on the industry, which probably does not have a whole lot of saving graces to begin with. I commend One Nation's amendment, which Senator Hanson will be introducing, to the Senate.