Thursday,  November 3, 2011 : Plans are being considered to boost counselling for problem gamblers, extend self-exclusion at pokie venues to family intervention and ban online companies from offering credit to punters.
 
Australia's precarious federal government continues to be driven on gambling decisions by independent MPs, it appeared this week as The Age newspaper reported that a policy discussion paper on gambling reform is being released by the opposition coalition.
 
The paper outlines plans to boost counselling for problem gamblers, extend self-exclusion at pokie venues to allow for family intervention and ban online companies from offering credit to punters. It flags outlawing odds being promoted during sports broadcasts, although horse and greyhound racing would be excluded, and asks for public comment on self-exclusion programs being extended to embrace third parties such as families.
 
More targeted counselling, including requiring all gambling venues to work with recognised counsellors, and training staff to identify problem gamblers, is another discussion area, as is changes to online gambling laws through a possible ban on internet betting firms offering credit to punters.
 
Senior MPs have been tasked with conducting the discussion and reporting back to government early in 2012
 
The coalition claims that gambling is a major problem for some Australians, but acknowledges that gambling is also an industry that employs over 150,000 people. The challenge is to balance the legitimate right of Australians to gamble responsibly with the appropriate protection and support for problem gamblers.
 
"The Coalition policy paper lashes the federal government for failing to trial mandatory pre-commitment or properly model the impact on employment, investment, revenue and tourism, which has put at risk elements of the social fabric in many metropolitan and regional communities," The Age reports.