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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3438


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities) (13:24): I'd like to thank all those in the chamber who've contributed to the debate on the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Lottery Betting) Bill 2018. The Australian government is committed to ensuring that online gambling takes place under a robust legislative framework with strong consumer protections and within the boundaries of community standards. Traditional lotteries and keno games are popular and longstanding recreational gambling products that provide millions of dollars in tax revenue to every state and territory in Australia and help fund important services and infrastructure for the community, such as hospitals, schools, public transport and roads.

The intent of the Interactive Gambling Act is to minimise the scope of problem gambling in Australia by limiting the types of interactive gambling services available to Australians. The Commonwealth is responsible for online gambling matters and is best placed to implement a national position in relation to lottery betting services in Australia. This is consistent with the important work being done to establish the national consumer protection framework. Whilst some stakeholders have raised concerns that this legislation could mean that only one lottery operator would remain in Australia, the fact is that these are matters upon which the Commonwealth does not have a view. State and territory governments, not the Commonwealth, are responsible for issuing gambling licences. State and territory governments determine the number and type of licences issued and the activities that can be undertaken. The Commonwealth's responsibility is limited to online gambling activities. The Commonwealth government, the Turnbull government, has formed the view that online synthetic lotteries and keno, which involve betting on the outcome of both foreign and domestic lottery and keno draws, are a gambling bridge too far.

Traditional lotteries are built on guaranteed prize pools from ticket sales and are required to comply with strict audit and consumer protection measures. Unlike official lotteries, lottery betting services are not required to comply with the guaranteed prize pool model. Instead, their major prizes are covered by insurance policies. This allows lottery betting services to offer bigger prizes more frequently, which further impacts on the financial benefits of traditional lotteries. Over $350 million is earned by some 4,000 newsagencies and official lottery agents across Australia from sales of traditional lottery products. Traditional keno services conducted in clubs and hotels across Australia help support community services and sporting initiatives. It is clear that a shift away from official lotteries would have a negative impact on small businesses.

Many Australians enjoy lotteries and keno as a recreational activity in the full knowledge that, win or lose, purchasing a ticket will contribute money back to the community. The government strongly believes that lottery and keno betting services undermine the longstanding community acceptance of traditional lotteries. With the number of lottery betting operators entering the Australian market increasing, it is now the time for the government to take action to minimise the adverse effects on customers and small businesses in the community. I call on all in the chamber to support the bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.