Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who is of the opinion that legalization of online gambling will lead to problem gambling, is determined to hinder any government move toward online gaming regulation.
“The problem with this recommendation from the government is that if it goes ahead, every computer is a casino, every smart phone is a poker game, and that’s just not on as far as the coalition is concerned.”
Nick Xenophon, noted for his campaigns against gambling, suggested at a media conference that the government wants part of the gambling revenue that currently goes into the state coffers. He demanded to know if the federal government is considering online gambling as its big source of revenue.
Meanwhile, labor is mulling over the idea of regulating online gaming so that online betting sites can offer in-play or live betting. According to Stephen Conroy, minister for communications, it is strange that bettors can wager through telephones, but not online, while Australians bet at offshore sportsbooks all the time.
Mr. Abbott however calls online gambling a “dark cave” into which people can easily enter, but cannot come out. He said, “If you are gambling on your smartphone, if you are gambling on your computer, you are absolutely on your own.”
He requested Julia Gillard during the afternoon parliament session to discard the idea of legalizing online gambling. But the prime minister refused to accept the suggestion, alleged that the opposition is only pretending to be concerned about problem gambling, and challenged it to support the poker machine reforms of the government.
Expressing her discontent, Ms. Gillard criticized Mr. Abbott’s inability to do anything to eliminate the risks of gambling. She said, “If he’s going to have a pretense of caring about problem gambling, he better pledge his support for poker machine reform.”
Even the Australian Greens expressed their support of Ms. Gillard and accused Mr. Abbott of preventing poker machine reforms.
Earlier, Rev. Tim Costello had supported the coalition’s take on online gambling. His statement, which was read in session by Senator Xenophon, mentioned that the wave of gambling, which is unsought and uninvited, is targeting young people. Since legalization of online gambling makes it more accessible, people are at a greater risk for gambling addiction, he added.
Jeff Kennett, former Victorian premier, expressed his support for online gaming legalization, stating that he can become more productive at work if he spends some time inside a casino.