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NXT and bookmakers unlikely allies against TAB devices

Thu, Dec 1, 3:00pm by Staff Writer

Corporate bookmakers and anti-gambling MP Nick Xenophon have become unlikely allies over a provision in the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill which will allow licensed venues to offer devices for punters to bet on.

The Bill is designed to end the practice of online betting on live sport, but while it outlaws TAB agencies, pubs and clubs offering punters the opportunity to bet on their own devices, it does not forbid betting on devices provided by the venue.

In practical terms it means that such venues could provide tablets or smartphones to punters to specifically bet live on sport.

Corporate bookmakers have objected to this as they believe it gives the retail licensees, which are predominantly Tabcorp and Tatts, an unfair advantage to offer live in play betting.

The corporates have shut down their Click To Call betting services over the past 12 months after tightening of regulation, while the IGA Bill will officially make the practice illegal.

They have raised their concerns with the Minister for Human services Allan Tudge, who has put forward the bill based upon the recommendations of the O’Farrell report into online gambling.

The corporate bookmakers have now been joined in their concerns by Nick Xenophon and his NXT party, who hold three seats in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives.

Sen Xenophon and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie have demanded major reforms in the gambling sector.

The NXT party released a statement this week saying it held concerns over the availability of venue -owned devices. It disputed suggestions that harm from gambling would be minimised because of the supervision of staff.

“In our experience working with problem gamblers, staff [in licensed venues] rarely intervene in betting venues when they believe a customer is struggling to control their gambling,” it said in a statement.

“These promoted ‘harm minimisation’ strategies rarely achieve their desired results.”

NXT is concerned that the Government had done no modelling to judge the impact of the laws.

It also pointed out that venues in Queensland were already providing electronic devices to punters in order for them to bet in-play legally.

However, despite its concerns, NXT has said will support the passage of the bill.

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