Nick Xenophon has built a strong political career on the premise of being “tough on gambling”. His anti-pokies and anti-sports betting campaigns are known far and wide. But his efforts to ban online betting ads during live sports broadcasts has been has come to a crashing halt.
The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) introduced the bill late last year with the intention of enforcing a ban against betting ads during live broadcasts of sporting events. The team argued that the ban was necessary to curb problem gambling and the potential promotion of betting activities to minors.
The bill also sought to establish a national regulator to provide uniformity in Australia’s regulation of gambling. It went on to request a national self-exclusion register for online betting customers who have a problem, and wish to exclude themselves from all betting activities, not just live gambling in their home state.
Online Betting Ads Here To Stay?
According to abc.net.au, the NXT’s private bill was swept aside by a Senate Estimates Committee after Coalition and Labour recommended its rejection. The committee called the bill unnecessary, as the Parliament is already considering an ample gambling reform measure by way of the federal Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (IGAB).
That bill was originally introduced in 2015, and granted an extension in 2016, following a review of current online betting laws by NSW’s former premier, Barry O’Farrell.
Sen. Xenophon was – as usual – fiercely vocal in his reaction. He “vehemently rejected” the recommendation of the committee to scrap his team’s reform measure, and went on to say “the current (regulatory) framework, even with the recent Government amendments, is woeful.”
Other Betting Reforms Get The Thumbs Up
While Sen. Xenophon was busy kicking up sand, it’s worth noting that his team did achieve one success – so far, anyway. Last week, another Senate Committee voted whole-heartedly in favor of his measure that sought to prohibit online betting operators from offering a line of credit to their punters. That bill received support from all sides – Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers alike.
It was a mini-celebration for NXT, though. The approval of the Senate is just one step in an arduous journey that will see the credit banning bill land in the laps of Australia’s House of Representatives.
According to expert analysts, it will most likely fail on that level.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – And Still Get Defeated…
For Sen. Xenophon, last week’s (so far) good news was also met by disappointment. Knowing his measures would be a hard sell, the Xenophon Team recently fought to integrate the same gambling reform measures as amendments to the federal IGAB.
The same ban against online betting ads and credit lines, and the institution of a national regulator and self-exclusion registry, were submitted for consideration in the federal reform amendment. The Senate dropped the guillotine on that plan last week.
Broadcasters Influencing Politicians?
There’s one blindingly bright group that stands to benefit the most from running online betting ads during live sports broadcasts, and that’s the broadcasters themselves. Sure, the gambling operators are scooping up profits and frowning upon the reform measures. But it’s the broadcasters who earned an estimated AU$120 million to run those ads in 2016.
They argued that viewers under 18 “comprise a very small proportion of the audience for live sports events on television,” adding that the only benefactors of an online betting advertisement ban would be Google and Facebook.
That argument was apparently enough to convince the Senate Estimates Committee.