Key Findings and Recommendations of the Inquiry
The committee’s report draws attention to the average of 948 gambling ads broadcast daily on free-to-air TV in Victoria, including 148 during prime time on weeknights. The proposed ban mirrors South Australia’s existing restrictions, prohibiting gambling advertising on TV from 4 pm to 7.30 pm on weekdays. The committee, led by Sarah Connolly, emphasises the need for regulations to protect Victorians, especially youth.
Federal Inquiry Echoes Similar Sentiments
A similar call for a ban on online gambling ads, to be phased in over three years, was made five months earlier by a federal parliamentary inquiry chaired by Labor MP Peta Murphy. The federal communications minister, Michelle Rowland, has indicated that no decisions have been made following this recommendation.
Broader Implications & Initiatives
The Victorian inquiry also suggests overhauling the ‘community benefit’ scheme for pokies venues, which allows for lower tax rates if 8.33% of gambling revenue is reinvested into the community. The committee proposes reviewing this arrangement and potentially replacing it with a fund aimed at reducing and preventing gambling harm.
Report’s Comprehensive Approach and Government’s Response
The report by the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) is based on extensive research and public consultations. It includes 96 findings and 61 recommendations aimed at reducing gambling harm. The Victorian government has acknowledged the report and plans to respond in due course, highlighting its commitment to strong gambling harm protections.
PAEC’s Diverse Recommendations
The PAEC’s (Public Accounts and Estimates Committee) recommendations extend beyond advertising bans. They include reviewing the number of electronic gambling machines (EGMs)/pokies, establishing regular consultations with local governments on gambling regulations, exploring data on gambling-related suicides, and promoting gambling prevention and treatment programs. The report also calls for the Victorian government to advocate for comprehensive anonymised data from online casinos as part of licensing conditions.
Expanding Efforts to Counteract Gambling-Related Harm
The Victorian inquiry’s focus on gambling advertisements stems from an extensive analysis revealing the significant presence of such ads in everyday life. The study commissioned by the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) highlights the saturation of gambling ads on television, particularly during prime time, illustrating the extent to which gambling has become embedded in popular culture.
Youth Engagement & Policy Development
The Victorian government’s approach to tackling gambling-related harm involves not just policy changes but also engaging with the youth. A group of young people shared their experiences with gambling and alcohol during an event at Parliament House, underscoring the importance of including diverse perspectives in policy-making. This engagement is pivotal in developing strategies that resonate with younger demographics, who are often the most vulnerable to gambling advertisements.
National Context & Collaborative Efforts
The Victorian government’s considerations are part of a broader, nationwide conversation about gambling and its impacts. The push for a national advertising ban and the involvement of various state governments signify a collaborative effort to address the issue at a national level. This cooperative approach is essential in creating a unified strategy to effectively mitigate the risks associated with gambling, especially given the borderless nature of online gambling and advertising.
Moving Forward with Comprehensive Strategies
As Victoria contemplates these substantial regulatory changes, it stands at the forefront of a national movement aiming to balance the economic benefits of gambling with the need to protect vulnerable populations from its potential harms. The government’s response to the committee’s recommendations will be a critical step in shaping the future of gambling regulation in the state and potentially setting a precedent for other regions in Australia.