Greek-Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon joined forces with Coalition leader Tony Abbott on Thursday to hammer the Gillard government’s credentials on regulating online gambling.
In a joint press conference in Camberra, Xenophon and the opposition leader said proposed changes to gambling regulations will only increase the number of problem gamblers. Both of them vowed to block any attempt to loosen restrictions on online gambling.
The Federal Government recently released its interim report into the online gambling industry recommending changes be made to laws that has lasted for ten years. Current laws, established by the Howard government, were created to reduce the potential for problem gambling through interactive and online services.
The Gillard government has backed some forms of online gambling, considering continuously developing technology and increased access to overseas online gambling websites.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said, “Nick and I don’t see eye to eye on every aspect of the gambling issue, but we are very much united in opposing this latest recommendation from the Government.”
The report suggest that by freeing up games such as online poker could encourage international service providers to be licensed by the Australian government. The report also proposes better warnings and safeguards for consumers, by putting in place more regulation and monitoring of online poker.
Senator Xenophon says the underlying reasoning of the report – that new forms of online gambling should be legalised because Australians are using illegal overseas sites – is flawed.
“That raises some serious questions – is the Federal Government looking at online gambling as their next big revenue source?,” Senator Xenophon said.
He said the Commonwealth had been the “last best hope” for gambling reform because it did not rely on gambling revenue, unlike the states.
Senator Xenophon said if the Government was concerned about Australians spending money on overseas-based online gambling it should blacklist the websites and crack down on the financial transactions.