Page 1514 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (3.53): The ACT government supports Dr Paterson’s motion to review online gambling and advertising issues. I thank her for bringing this important matter to the Assembly. I know that gambling harm reduction is an issue Dr Paterson has a genuine and deep interest in, as well as expertise from her life before coming to the Assembly.

As outlined in the motion, the ACT government has an extensive set of measures in the parliamentary and governing agreement to reduce the harm caused by gaming whilst supporting sustainable clubs. I have worked, and will continue to work, with the Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council and the broader clubs industry on these important reforms, including implementing $5 bet limits and $100 credit limits on electronic gaming machines in the territory. This is a very significant reform that has taken a number of years to bring to the table and I am pleased that we are now working on the implementation of that reform.

The ACT government is working with the federal government, which has responsibility for online gambling and advertising, to reduce the harm caused from online gambling, which is the fastest growing part of the gambling sector in Australia. Online gambling has increased at a rate of 15 per cent annually since 2004 and research shows that almost 21 per cent of adults in the ACT, or 68,000 people, gambled online in the past 12 months. Participation in online gambling further increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with recent research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority finding that more than one in 10 Australians reported participating in online gambling at some stage in the previous six months, which is up from eight per cent in 2020.

We know that online gambling advertising causes harm to people, families and the broader community. The ACT government has limited levers to address this issue, because the legislation that regulates online gambling and advertising sits with the commonwealth. We have worked and will continue to work with the federal government on this issue, through mechanisms such as the national consumer protection framework and our partnership with Gambling Research Australia. I will come back to those points a little later.

Online wagering providers in Australia must meet requirements under both the commonwealth’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 as well as broader gambling requirements set out by state and territory governments through their licensing regimes. The majority of wagering providers are licensed in the Northern Territory and must abide by their rules.

The current framework was introduced at a time when the online environment was less sophisticated and mobile internet technology less developed. Over time, technological advances have changed the online gambling environment and it is necessary to continue to review the regulatory framework to ensure it is fit for purpose and responds to current regulatory challenges.

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