Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Productivity Commission’s draft report into gambling

The Australian Government welcomes the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into gambling.

Last year, the Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to update its 1999 inquiry into Australia’s gambling industries, with a focus on problem gambling.

Problem gambling destroys lives – not only the life of the problem gambler but also the lives of their families and friends.

The draft report reaffirms the national approach the Australian Government is taking to minimise the harm of problem gambling with particular emphasis on electronic gaming machines.

In July this year, the Australian and State and Territory Governments through the Ministerial Council on Gambling, agreed to a new work plan to address problem gambling over the next three years.

This includes developing a national policy standard for pre-commitment technology, better coordination between front-line Commonwealth services and State funded gambling counselling services, and a national ‘at-risk’ problem gambling screening tool for use by health professionals and other service providers.

An Australian Government supported trial of pre-commitment technology, to encourage people to set their own gambling limits, is already underway in South Australia.

Queensland is also conducting a pre-commitment trial and Victoria has committed to introducing a pre-commitment mechanism. These trials will guide the development of the national policy standard for pre-commitment technology.

The Ministerial Council also agreed to consider a nationally consistent daily withdrawal limit on ATMs at gambling venues.

The Productivity Commission’s draft report identifies the use of poker machines as the most serious problem gambling issue in Australia.

An estimated 125,000 Australians are problem gamblers and a further 290,000 are at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

Over the last decade there have been many changes in the gambling environment including changes to technology and the growth of online sports betting. The regulatory landscape has also changed considerably.

Moderating the habits of problem gamblers to minimise the harm gambling causes, has the potential to significantly improve the lives of gamblers and those who bear the brunt of their addiction.

The Australian Government encourages all interested parties to make further comment on the draft report, and the Government will consider the final Productivity Commission report when it is released early next year.

In the meantime we are continuing to work with the States and Territories to tackle problem gambling.

Draft report is available at Productivity Commission.