Sat, Aug 10, 10:57am by Kevin Pitstock
Coalition Prime Minister Candidate Tony Abbott today announced he would ban all credit offered by Australian online gambling companies. The ban would make it impossible for online poker rooms, sports betting sites, and Internet casinos to offer credit to customers.
The controversial practice has received much attention in recent months, as several high profile cases have revealed what many consider the dark side of online gambling. It’s been learned that several notable footballers received large amounts of credit then went on binge betting sprees.
In another case, a mentally ill Wantirna man who had no job was given $80,000 in credit by Sportsbet. The man gambled away the entire line of credit in one weekend of online gaming. When he couldn’t pay back the eighty thousand dollars, Sportsbet took him to court and forced him into bankruptcy. Only the intervention of Victoria Liberal MP Alan Tudge kept the man from losing his home.
That case got national attention, and Mr Tudge won public favour by pointing out how credit runs against the principles of responsible gambling. Tudge publicly asked Sportsbet to “show compassion”. The 2011 case in Wantirna convinced many average citizens that something was wrong with a system which allows a resident to lose their home due to a weekend of bad decisions. A ban on credit would mean people could only lose the money they already have in their casino account instead of betting cash they don’t have.
Many commented on the case at the time, such as former AFL football and admitted gambling addict, David Schwarz, who suggested at the time the laws which govern gambling-on-credit should be tightened. Still, in an election year when the Tom Waterhouse live betting odds case and the More Joyous inquiry received a great deal more media scrutiny, the issue of online gambling credit received relatively little attention.
Since then, the Productivity Committee released statistics showing that problem gamblers are the ones most likely to use casino credit. The same report showed that credit programs are more concentrated in the online gambling industry than with land-based bookmakers and casinos.
While Tony Abbott supports the credit ban, if he ascends to the PM position, he will not follow through with Labor’s initiative to impose the controversial mandatory pre-commitment system. Under the pre-commitment system, all gamblers would be required to set monetary limits on their betting. Labor politicians have supported this law because it requires players to set an upward loss limit before their competitiveness takes over and causes them to make irrational decisions.
Coalition also said he would not support the $1 bet limit the Greens Party would impose on pokies. The Greens point to poker machines as the chief engine for gambling addiction, as the fast-paced nature of the pokies encourages a high rate of betting. They believe lowering the max bet from $10 or $5 down to $1 would curtail problem gambling, but Tony Abbott believes the current laws are sufficient.
Coalition officials would do away with the gambling regulator Labor has imposed, stating they believe law enforcement of regulations should be handled at the state and not national level of government. Also, the current Opposition did not say they would legislate new laws on gambling advertising if the current legal code proves to be insufficient.
This represents a much different view of the gambling industry than either Labor or Greens offers. In many ways, Tony Abbott’s stance on the gaming industry might prove a better fit for the companies, despite the ban on credit.
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