Australian MPs to Hear Personally from Victims of Gambling Harm

Authorities in Australia will be launching a parliamentary inquiry into the impact of live sports betting and loot boxes to assess the effectiveness of the current gambling regulation regime, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Scrutinize Regulation, Loot Boxes and Gambling Advertising

Led by Labor MP Peta Murphy, who is chair of the standing committee on social policy, the inquiry will examine the state of current online gambling regulations and advertising restrictions, including advertising over social media and through sponsorship or branding, and will tour the country to speak with victims of online gambling harm.

Murphy, who has been on record in parliament stating that a further crackdown on gambling advertising during sports matches is needed, explained that the essence of the parliamentary inquiry is to reduce problem gambling and see if it can be prevented before it appears, rather than to ban gambling.

The parliamentary inquiry will also look to assess whether authorities need to take action against elements within video games that resemble gambling such as loot boxes and act on concerns from parents and experts about the increase in loot boxes that encourage gamers to spend real money to unlock rewards that will expand the gaming experience.

Commenting on the issue of loot boxes, Murphy outlined that, though she has no personal experience as a gamer, “people do talk about these in-games games” that mimic gambling and are easy to access by children.

The inquiry will also consider the effectiveness of the gambling advertising regime enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to forbid gambling advertising from five minutes before the scheduled start of play until five minutes after play has ended, including during breaks. According to a recent study on public opinion, 71% of respondents were in favor of a blanket ban on gambling advertising.

The Federal Government Has a Real Issue at Hand

The inquiry is the response of the federal government that was put under pressure by the opposition to take stronger action against gambling companies. It was anti-gambling advocate Andrew Wilkie and teal independent Zoe Daniel who called for an inquiry into the promotion of sports gambling.

Daniel stated last month that children talking about sports betting ‘multis’ and sports betting apps on their mobile phones, and even betting on the federal election outcome, means that the federal government has a real issue at hand.

Until November, the inquiry will be accepting submissions and any viable recommendations will be sent to Social Affairs Minister Amanda Rishworth and the government for consideration before the inquiry starts touring the country to hear personally from victims of gambling addiction and their loved ones next year.