Blanket ban on online wagering advertising a step too far

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) has called on the Government to take a balanced approach to the recommendations of the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs report into online wagering as the recommendations reach well beyond community concern.

RWA CEO, Kai Cantwell, said the Committee’s recommendation to introduce a phased blanket ban on online wagering advertising fails to consider the evidence from the Committee hearings.

“RWA recognises community concerns around online wagering advertising and there are more effective ways of meeting community expectations,” Mr Cantwell said.

“Other more measured options which could be considered by the Government include capping the numbers of gambling ads to be shown.

“By doing this, the expectations of the community to see less advertising would be met, while also maintaining the crucial support to sporting codes and local broadcasters.

“RWA members, along with broadcasters and major sporting codes have publicly acknowledged that there is a growing desire in the community to see less gambling advertising.

“However, blanket bans – even in a phased roll out – are short sighted, ineffective and are not the answer.

“We know that strict changes – like blanket bans and banning inducements, such as bonus bets – often prove ineffective in addressing problem gambling, with Australians instead turning to illegal offshore markets as they seek out these options.

RWA members support the Committee’s renewed focus on cracking down on offshore providers but are concerned the Report ignores the key drivers that encourage people to gamble offshore, with 47 per cent of Australians who gamble having used offshore sites.

“The Report goes a long way in acknowledging the serious harm that illegal offshore wagering plays here,” Mr Cantwell said.

“RWA has consistently called for balanced measures which make it easier for Australians to avoid the offshore market, and ensure that wagerers know which sites are legal and safe to use.

Already RWA members have implemented effective, targeted and data-driven solutions to protect children and vulnerable people, which are world leading and have been incorporated into national programs.

“By rolling out stronger customer ID verifications, working to remove the use of credit online, and implementing the National Consumer Protection Framework hand in hand with the Government, we have been on the front foot of consumer protections,” Mr Cantwell said.

“RWA has long been an advocate for national consistency and welcomes the Committee’s commitment to strengthen these requirements and to build a strong evidence base.

RWA members contributed approximately $6 billion into the Australian economy in 2022, including $1.9 billion in taxes which directly fund healthcare, education, and other vital services – unlike illegal offshore operators.

“As an industry body we will always consider sensible and measured reform,” Mr Cantwell said.

“We welcome the approach of Ministers Rowland and Rishworth and their willingness to work with the industry and all affected stakeholders and look forward to continuing to work with the Government in good faith on a balanced approach.

RWA will be considering their final position on the Committee’s recommendations and will continue to work with the Government to deliver the National Self Exclusion Register and the review of the National Consumer Protection Framework later this year, to inform further policy reform.