Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 criticised by Whitlam MP

Stephen Jones calls IGA amendments ineffective
Whitlam MP Stephen Jones deems Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill ineffective.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 has been deemed ineffective as the House of Representatives resumed the debate on Wednesday.

Despite support from both Australian Liberal and Labor MPs on the second parliamentary seating, Whitlam MP Stephen Jones has deemed the bill as “well-meaning but ineffective.”

Mr Jones was the only MP to present researched documents to back his claims that the bill, however well-intentioned, is ultimately “ineffective”.

“The document that I will quote from includes a series of top 10 recommended list of Australian online casinos,” Mr Jones said to the Speaker.

“What’s interesting about this is that these are specifically the online gaming services that are banned by the 2001 bill.

“There has been no prosecutions under this act.”

Jones, who said fellow politicians were being dishonest about the purpose of the bill, also pointed out that there had been a drop of 70 per cent in offshore wagering since 2004. The reason for it being that many sites operating offshore have since been granted licenses to operate in Australia.

“These are reasons why we should take a very hard look at other more effective means of regulation which will achieve the stated aims of the bill and the Act,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones also referred to the O’Farrell Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering, advising regulators to look at the evidence.

“Offshore wagering markets in Australia in 2014 was worth around $64 million,” he said.

“Now this is down 70 per cent since 2004.”

“The steep decline according to the consultants in offshore wagering expenditure from Australia, coincides with the ability of onshore sites to legally advertise nationally since late 2008.

“These findings should be instructive to lawmakers and regulators about the best way to go about dealing with the problems that I think most Australians would agree are associated to problem gambling in the country.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie on the other hand supports the bill and has applauded the government for acting on the recommendations. But he said a new bill which is in the works to protect gamblers proves this bill is a missed opportunity.

“We’re always talking about that next bill,” he said.

“I think it’s a missed opportunity today that we’re not debating a more comprehensive bill, one that addresses a number of other important issues.”

He did praise some online gambling sites for offering player protection services and suggested a national database for effective harm minimisation.

“It’s actually good and commendable the way some Australian service providers do have somewhat effective self-exclusion arrangements.”

Federal Member for Forrest MP Nola Marino pointed out Australians ‘spend more money on gambling than we do our health’ but also noted offshore gambling meant less revenue for the government.

Some MPs used the debate to enhance their political agenda including Federal Member for Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson.

“This is yet another example of how the Turnbull government is supporting families,” she said.

“The reaction to the bill has been extremely positive.

“But it is disappointing, that it took a Liberal National Government to implement these important reforms.

“In so many respects we’ve seen in the parliament that we are fixing up Labor’s mess and it is regrettable that this hasn’t been dealt with earlier, but let’s not dwell on Labor’s failure in this respect.”

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