Transcript by The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Channel 7 Sunrise

Topics: National Consumer Protection Framework


DAVID KOCH: Now, the federal government will announce a range of measures later today aimed at reducing problem online gambling. Called the National Consumer Protection Framework, the goal is to make gamblers take back some control. Joining me now, Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher.

Good morning to you, Minister. Thanks for joining us.

PAUL FLETCHER: You’re welcome.

DAVID KOCH: We know online gambling is an issue; is it getting any worse than sort of the old style of gambling?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, the figures show that the rate of problem gambling amongst online gamblers is about three times the rate amongst old style gambling.

You know, about a million people have online gambling accounts; about 2.5 million accounts. And the estimates are close to a-quarter-of-a-million of those are at risk.

DAVID KOCH: What, 25 per cent of that million online gamblers are at risk?

PAUL FLETCHER: Look, that’s right. And part of the reason is because it’s all so easy online.

You get all kinds of inducements.

Until recently, they’ve been able to offer lines of credit. Now, we’ve already, as part of these 10 measures, one of them is to ban lines of credit and loans being provided by the online gambling providers. So, we’ve already legislated to do that, but we’ve got 10 measures in this National Consumer Protection Framework.

DAVID KOCH: Now, the centrepiece is a national self-exclusion. So, a problem gambler can say: right, exclude me across all of these platforms. That takes a lot of will power, doesn’t it? If you’re already addicted, how can you go…

PAUL FLETCHER: It certainly does take will power. But at the moment, the problem is even if you decide to do that, you’ve got to go across site after site after site.

This will be one place you can go, you make one decision, you can exclude yourself for three months or for a lifetime, you’ll be referred to sources of information for counselling, and so on. So, that’ll be a software system that will be developed over the next 18 months.

We’ll legislate, we’ll get the system developed. In fact, the work’s already underway to develop it. And that’ll be a very important consumer protection measure, along with restrictions on inducements, and a whole range of other measures; clear, consistent accounts, statements.

I met one problem gambler, I’ll call him John, who’s made redundant after 21 years at a particular company, bit depressed about that, had a pay out of about $170,000. He managed to gamble all of that away online in just a few weeks. Now, he showed me his statements, there was nowhere on those statements that showed the total amount that he had bet. So, we’re going to have some clear requirements in terms of the statements that have to be provided to gamble.

DAVID KOCH: Oh, that’s a step in the right direction because it is addictive, because basically these platforms gamify gambling, isn’t it? So, attractive.

Thank you for that. Appreciate it.

PAUL FLETCHER: My pleasure.