Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016; Consideration in Detail
I have had this discussion with the member for Denison in private, but, since he has asked me in this parliament, let me articulate why we see a key difference here between the online environment and the pokies environment. You get problems in both of those, and we are addressing the online gambling problems through the National Consumer Protection Framework. Indeed there are problems in relation to problem gamblers in the pokies area. The difference is that the online environment, by definition, cuts across jurisdictional boundaries. A provider can be licensed in the Northern Territory, for example—as indeed many of the providers are—but their services go throughout Australia. So the jurisdiction of the Northern Territory licences those providers, and Northern Territory residents might gamble with those providers, but so do New South Wales residents, Victorian residents, South Australian residents et cetera. By definition this cuts across jurisdictional boundaries, and consequently you need more of a national approach. I think most states and territories recognise that, because they do not have full control over what occurs in their own jurisdiction. Compare that with poker machines. Poker machines are contained within the one jurisdiction. The licences are issued by the single state government, the revenue is collected by that same state government and the problems which arise also occur within that same jurisdiction. Consequently you do not have those cross-jurisdictional issues.
The view of the federal government therefore is that, because they are licensed at the state level, the revenue is collected at the state level and the problems arise at the state level—all within the single jurisdiction—it makes sense that that state or territory government deal with the issues associated with the poker machines, whereas, as I said, the online environment, by definition, crosses jurisdictional boundaries, and consequently you do need more of a national approach, which is why we have taken such a great interest in this. There is also an international dimension with the online environment, which is where the Interactive Gambling Act comes into play, because that deals with those international illegal providers. Indeed most of this act is trying to crack down on them.