Are you sick of sports betting ads? Hate the sight of Tom Waterhouse’s grinning face? Find it impossible to hear “Those Magic Moments” without thinking of those suckers at the TAB?
Well, get used to it. If the attitudes of our politicians are any indication, things won’t be changing for a long, long time… if at all.
Odd one out?
Last week, on Wednesday May 15, Greens Senator Richard Di Natale introduced a bill to the Senate. It called for amendments to the broadcasting act, banning the promotion of live odds, and all sports betting advertising before 9pm. I wrote about it here, and I think it’s a brilliant idea.
Unfortunately, Senator Di Natale’s colleagues think otherwise.
The bill was debated on Thursday 16 May; in a rare display of bi-partisanship, Labor and Liberal Senators were united in opposing the proposed amendments.
Senator Gary Humphries dismissed the bill, saying “It seems to be the case with the Australian Greens that there is no social problem too big or too small that is not capable of being remedied or cured with a healthy dose of regulation.”
Senator Chris Back, a member of the senate committee on gambling reform: “We are not going to wipe out this risk to children by totally banning—certainly until nine o’clock at night—the advertising of sports betting services on television and radio.”
Senator Back went on to speak of his own experiences: “I spent a good deal of my early life in the goldfields area of WA where two-up was a tradition… and there has not been an epidemic of gambling as a result of children growing up in families where their parents may have tossed pennies.”
Senator Ursula Stephens made the leap to banning gambling altogether, saying “Do we seek to legislate for good behaviour? Do we seek to regulate the industry? Do we seek to ban gambling, driving it underground and back to the good old days of SP bookmakers? Technology will beat us every time if that is the approach we take.”
Senator Mark Furner stated: “the government’s preference… is for action to be taken through a co-regulatory framework for broadcasting regulation.” Mind you, now that Stephen Conroy’s involvement in the Free TV code of practice amendments has come to light, you have to wonder just how “co-regulatory” this is.
Senator Furner seemed more interested in talking about State of Origin than sports betting… which is ironic in its own special way.
And finally, Senator Alex Gallacher made the statement of the day.
“The argument is that there is a barrage of ads, disturbing evidence that kids can identify sports betting agencies and that the consciousness of children is being altered or informed. Well, that is just a very successful advertising campaign. That happens with breakfast cereals and with Coca-Cola, and it happens with everything. So I do not think you can say that sports betting is the cause of their altered consciousness; it is advertising that does it.”
If this is the prevailing attitude in Canberra… then it’s hard to see how this situation can ever change.
And if Labor Senators are united in their opposition to a Greens bill seeking to restrict gambling ads until after 9pm, then it will be interesting to see what they make of a similar proposal from within their own ranks. Stephen Jones will be asking caucus to back his bill banning gambling ads from PG timeslots; I’m waiting with anticipation to see what will happen next.
(this article appears as part of a longer article at Australians for Honest Politics)