Narrow majority opens the door for anti-pokie politicians

Narrow majority opens the door for anti-pokie politicians

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
The outcome of the Australian General Election has made Nick Xenophon bullish

The incredibly close outcome of the Australian General Election, which has seen the incumbent coalition government retain control, could have some major implications for the gambling industry in the country.

The Liberal–National Coalition has retained a majority of just two in the lower house, which means that anti-gambling politicians will hold much more sway during this parliamentary term than the previous one.

Chief among these is Nick Xenophon, a long term ‘anti-pokie’ politician, who launched his own political party ahead of this election called Nick Xenophon Team (NXT). The party, which has stated its key issues as manufacturing, farming and ‘predatory gambling’, has won a seat in the lower house and two in the divided Senate.

Xenophon has long been an opponent of the ‘pokie’ gaming machines found in most Australian pubs and clubs, but has recently also spoken out about gambling advertising.

It seems he has some support in the Parliament too, as the Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has said he is to join Senator Xenophon and Rev Tim Costello AO from the Alliance for Gambling Reform to discuss the need for ‘urgent action’ on problem gambling in the new Parliament.

Wilkie commented: “The new Parliament, with both Nick Xenophon and myself in key crossbench positions, presents the perfect opportunity to put gambling reform back on the national agenda and to finally achieve meaningful action.

“For a start Senator Xenophon and I will be calling for the re-establishment of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform so it can continue the work that began in the 43rd Parliament. We will be introducing legislation to rein in the harm caused by poker machines, including by implementing the Productivity Commission’s recommendations of $1 maximum bets.

“We’ll also be focusing on the scourge of gambling advertising and will be calling on the Government to ban sports betting advertising during G-rated television periods.”

Xenophon added: “We will be planning a whole series of measures, both in the parliament and outside the parliament, to deal with the issue of gambling reform and, in particular, one issue that has resonated throughout the community and that is on the issue of sports betting advertising.”

The Australian Wagering Council (AWC) has already responded to concerns over advertising. It has supported the 1 July start of a new marketing code for betting ads, specific rules banning advertising to minors, the siren-to-siren ban on live odds during broadcasts and the ban on gambling advertising during live play in sports broadcasts. AWC's Ian Fletcher commented: "We want open discussion on how best to address these concerns." 

Totally Gaming Says: “Australian politics has been subject to coalitions and partnerships a lot in the past few years, and while Nick Xenophon’s capacity to make headlines has been effective, his push for gambling reform has been less so. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been happy to leave gambling reform for the states and territories. Given the PM is reportedly sympathetic to gambling reform, Xenophon’s big challenge during this Parliament is to change Turnbull’s mind on it being a federal matter.”

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