Communications Minister Michelle Rowland stopped short of calling on NSW Premier-elect Chris Minns to back cashless slots across his state as shocking new data reveals the extent of the game’s damage.
Minns has pledged to implement a cashless trial on hundreds of machines in a bid to counter former Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet’s gambling reforms.
Ms Rowland said the NSW Labor leader went into the election with a clear policy.
“People made their decision there. This is an area that is regulated by state law and I hope you stay true to your election commitments,” he told ABC.
“I also hope that, as prime minister, you will be open and consultative about that process, that you are also very committed to harm minimization and that you make sure that you deliver what the community expects in terms of delivering on your commitments.”
Asked how voters could trust her ability to regulate the industry after accepting a $19,000 donation from online betting company Sportsbet, Ms Rowland said she was taking action now.
“It’s very clear that we understand that the community expects action in this area … and I’m doing my job,” he said.
Ms Rowland previously promised that she would take no more money from gambling companies now that she is a minister.
The Australian Gambling Research Center found that lotteries and scratchies were the most used products (64%), followed by racing (38%), sports betting (34%) and slots (33%). ).
Nearly half of those who gambled were classified as being at risk of gambling harm, including mental health issues and unmanageable debt.
When it comes to gambling ads, three quarters of Australian adults reported seeing or hearing sports or racing betting ads at least once a week in the past 12 months.
Two in five were exposed to those ads four or more times a week.
21% of people were asked to start gambling for the first time after seeing an ad, while 34% increased the amount they spent.
“Exposure to gambling advertising leads to riskier gambling behavior and increases the likelihood of gambling harm,” said Rebecca Jenkinson, executive director of the research center.
“The report also captures the concerns of the Australian public that gambling advertising normalizes gambling activity.”
Seventy-seven per cent of Australians believe there are too many opportunities to gamble, while 59 per cent say they should be discouraged.
The federal government has said it is committed to reducing the damage caused by gambling.
Starting this week, consistent messaging will be used across the country, while betting service staff will need to complete new training on gambling damage.
In the coming months, the federal government will also implement the first national self-exclusion registry called BetStop.