Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

States and Territories Reject National Gambling Research Institute

States and Territories have rejected efforts by the Howard Government to establish a National Gambling Research Institute to produce evidence based research to help reduce problem gambling.

Speaking at the Ministerial Council on Gambling in Melbourne the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said the state and territories had instead chosen to enhance the existing research programme and rename it Gambling Research Australia.

“This is not a new body and is simply smoke and mirrors by the states to cover up their reluctance to spend their gambling revenue on this significant problem,” Senator Patterson said.

“Despite receiving over $4 billion from gambling taxes each year, the states and territories are not prepared to contribute just 0.4 per cent of these funds
(or $1.68 million) which is needed to strengthen the national gambling research.

“Without supporting decent research, no state or territory can claim a commitment to minimising the social and economic harms caused by problem gambling.

“Current research efforts into problem gambling are not adequate and I had offered $3 million towards establishing a national gambling research institute. My proposal would have leveraged additional funding from the industry and other stakeholders, providing greater national focus utilising university research expertise.

“Funding of responsible gambling research in Australia is sporadic, limited and insufficient to support an ongoing research capacity – there is a real need for some core, ongoing funding. I believe it is also critical for other stakeholders, such as industry, to be engaged so they can contribute to determining the research agenda.

“While I am disappointed with today’s outcome, the states and territories have agreed to adopt recommendations from a review of the current national effort, the National Gambling Research Program, to improve the work of this programme, Senator Patterson said.

States and Territories today also tried to shift responsibility for limiting access to ATMs in gaming venues.

Senator Patterson said despite their protests to the contrary states and territories have the power to act in this area.

“I have had advice from the Australian Government Solicitor that states and territories have the ability to regulate access to ATMs, limits on withdrawals as well as impose sanctions on providers to who do not meet their regulations.

“If they really believe restricting ATMs will make a difference to problem gamblers they should introduce these measures in their own jurisdictions. I have always said that any measures introduced should be the result of evidence based research.”