Australian Politicians Seek Gambling Law Changes

Calls to Limit Oz Pokie Bets

Australia has 5 times more slot machines per capita than the US.

Two of the most vocal political opponents to Australian gambling have indicated that they will launch a campaign to change the laws in the industry. Senator Nick Xenophon and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie want pokie machines to be limited to $1 per spin. In addition, they are seeking to ban advertising during sports broadcasts where minors are likely to view them.

According to the two politicians, who are longtime gambling opponents, they want to see the industry more tightly regulated as they are concerned about Australians' gambling habits.

Federal Government Hesitates With Change

Xenophon and Wilkie are charging Federal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball for skirting the issue of gambling reform, after he had previously supported it. Turnball recently said that he would prefer to leave it up to individual states and territories to decide about their own gambling laws.

One change that the Turnball government has implemented is the ban of in-play online betting in Australia. The Prime Minister, however, is up against intense opposition by Clubs Australia, the group representing 6,500 licensed clubs across the country, to implement further changes.

Criticism Against Aussie Government

Independent MP Wilkie criticized the government's policy to leave the matter of gambling decisions up to states and territories. He said that states, thus far, had proven themselves to be "untrustworthy" regulators, and he called for the federal government to step in.

"The case is compelling, and it is very, very sad that up until now, parliamentarians have not seemed to care enough about the hurt caused by problem gambling;" he said, "that parliamentarians have been happy to be completely out of step with the vast majority of the members of the community who want strong reform."

Xenophon said that he and Wilkie would be planning a "whole series of measures, both in parliament and out, to deal with the issue of gambling reform." He added that the issue of sports betting ads "resonated throughout the community."