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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Ministers to move forward on national gambling research institute

State and Territory Gambling Ministers meeting in Adelaide today have agreed to strengthen the national effort on problem gambling research and conduct further work on the possible establishment of a National Gambling Research Institute.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said the Howard Government would commit up to $3 million to establish a national gambling research institute and she would continue to push the States and Territories to contribute.

“The Howard Government is leading the national effort in relation to problem gambling, even though addressing the social and economic harms of problem gambling is largely the responsibility of States and Territories, which receive all the revenue from gambling taxes – over $4 billion each year,” Senator Patterson said.

“We are working to understand better problem gambling but more needs to be done. We need better, and more comprehensive evidence about the most effective ways to address problem gambling, and to reduce the harm to problem gamblers and to people, communities and businesses directly affected.

“Rather than politically driven, new measures need to be introduced as the result of based on evidence based research.

“The Howard Government is prepared to commit funds to building the understanding of problem gambling. While today’s meeting agreed to undertake further work, I am disappointed some states chose not to turn up showing a complete lack of commitment to a very concerning problem.

“I will be pushing for the establishment of a National Research Gambling Institute and for the States and Territories to contribute. States and Territories have been experiencing escalating gambling revenues and this puts them in a good position to also invest in such an institute.

“The Howard Government has encouraged more transparent reporting on the allocation of revenue to address problem gambling, through a national approach to reporting under the National Framework for Problem Gambling. Today, the States and Territories have again failed to agree to provide information regarding their spending on problem gambling, which begs the question: what are they trying to hide?

“A combination of a stronger research effort and better information about funding for strategies to address problem gambling will enable us to monitor the effectiveness of our efforts.

“I firmly believe that a cooperative approach involving all interested groups will provide the best possible evidence on which to implement practical solutions that everyone can be confident will help problem gamblers while not preventing others from continuing to enjoy this age-old pastime,” Senator Patterson said.