In the Australian Parliament, a private member bill has been launched by Opposition MP Bruce Billson which seeks to ban interactive betting through pay-television channels, reports The Australian newspaper this week.
Billson said he was concerned about the despair, economic and emotional hardship caused by problem gambling, and this had motivated his Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2008 which could directly affect Two-Way TV, a company which recently signed a deal with Victorian wagering group Tabcorp and pay-TV group Foxtel to provide interactive betting through the Sky Racing pay-TV channel (see previous InfoPowa report).
"Pay-TV gambling has commenced in Victoria with racing and many suspect it is just a matter of time before pressure mounts to extend it to betting on football codes, other sports and even in virtual casinos across the country," Billson said.
"This private member's bill was motivated by the failure of the Rudd Labor Government to act to stop an insidious new form of pay-TV gambling," he added. "It seeks to prohibit the roll-out of new gambling technology in the form of subscription television based interactive gambling (and) rejects the suggestion by proponents and gambling revenue-addicted state Labor governments that this new form of gambling is no big deal and is simply an extension of telephone and internet betting."
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2008 additionally calls on the Australian government to review the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 which allows wagering over the phone or Internet.
"The bill makes it absolutely clear that the limited exemption to current interactive gambling prohibitions, permitting wagering over the phone or Internet, does not allow for interactive subscription television gambling with all the sound, sights and stimuli of race day in the family lounge," Billson said.
The MP pointed out that the Commonwealth's 2004 Review of the Operations of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 expressed concern that interactive gambling, including television-based platforms "would potentially normalise aberrant gambling behaviour and exacerbate the social harm associated with problem gambling".
The Opposition said its bill had the support of the Victorian Interfaith Gambling Taskforce and its interstate affiliates, Clubs NSW and anti-gambling campaigner Reverend Tim Costello.
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