As you might have already read, the Federal Government has some changes afoot in the gambling space. Basically, the government are determined to stop Aussies betting with foreign-based bookmakers.
We wrote about the first set of laws to be pushed through, and how it didn’t address the issue of bookmakers bans.
As usual, we received quite a bit of feedback on this story.
We’re constantly getting messages from punters who are banned from betting with local bookmakers. Aside from the obvious question of finding a winner, it’s the topic we hear about most often from punters.
We love the feedback, but there’s something more you can do to make a difference: make yourself heard.
A bit of background…
In 2015, the Federal Government commissioned a review into illegal offshore wagering taking place in Australia. Obviously, the explosion of online betting has broken down borders and allowed people to bet with whomever they want.
The review was chaired by former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and was open for submissions, which were made by bookmakers, punters and other interested parties.
The review delivered its report in March 2016, and is available here if you want to read it.
We can tell you from all the punters we speak to: few who gamble with offshore operators do so by choice. They’re forced to because they’ve been banned by local bookmakers.
Their crime? Not losing enough money.
It leads to the obvious conclusion that bookmakers in Australia should be licensed to do just that: frame and manage a book, and collect their percentage. Not target and engage those who are going to lose the most money, and simply refuse to do business with the rest. It’s an approach that has torn the industry to pieces in the UK, and now local bookmakers – most owned and operated by those same British firms – have brought it here.
In practice the solution is simple: as Racing Victoria and Racing NSW have already done in their respective states, implement a national minimum bet law which forces licensed bookmakers to accept all bets of a reasonable amount. It vastly decreases the need for any punter to go offshore to bet.
Compare it to another fast-growing web activity, online shopping.
You want a new pair of shoes. Except every Australian retailer simply refuses to sell them to you because they don’t think they can make enough money. They’re available online however from an overseas retailer. What would you do?
And what do you think the response of most Australians would be if the government then decided it was going to ban online shopping as a result?
Unfortunately, swamped by submissions from bookmakers and their specialist government lobby groups – some making laughably and clearly false statements on the subject – the O’Farrell Review stopped short of recommending a minimum bet law. It did, however, make the following recommendation:
Further research should be undertaken on the impact of betting restrictions on illegal offshore wagering and the identification of options to improve the situation.
The government released their response to the review (you can read that here), and thankfully agreed with the recommendation:
The Government will examine the existing literature base on betting limits, commission further research, and undertake further consultations to explore options to address the impact of betting restrictions imposed by Australian licensed bookmakers, which have been cited as a factor in decisions to gamble offshore.
The man responsible for this area is Alan Tudge, Minister for Human Services.
Unfortunately, the release of the first measures to be implemented as a result of the O’Farrell Review included nothing in this area. We contacted Minister Tudge’s office regarding this, and were told he had no comment to make on the topic.
So what can you do?
Simple. Make yourself heard.
Contact Minister Tudge and tell him exactly what you’ve been telling us:
Federal Member for Aston
Suite 4, Level 1, 420 Burwood Highway
Wantirna South Vic 3152
If you think bookmakers should have to deal with all punters as part of their license, rather than just losing and problem gambers, then tell him.
Contacting the man himself takes no longer than it does to contact us. And it will make a difference to the future of the industry – and your ability to have a punt.