Coalition Gambling Intervention Proposals Go Two Ways

Today the Coalition announced proposals in a discussion paper for how they would deal with the major issue of problem gambling. The discussion paper proposes voluntary pre-commitment as opposed to the mandatory pre-commitment scheme put forward by the Government. Furthermore, the Coalition scheme proposes better targeted and increased counselling. The discussion paper further proposes the possibility of a ban on the broadcast of live-betting odds during sporting events on television.

It is my argument that these major proposals from the Abbott-led Coalition go two ways, one consistent with Liberal Party ideology and one not so much.

First, we start with the proposal of a voluntary pre-commitment scheme. This is a scheme where the gambler will volunteer freely as to whether or not they sign up to putting a limit to their gambling on poker machines.

The idea of voluntary pre-commitment technology is based on giving the consumer a choice in their activities, to decide for themselves whether or not they are causing themselves harm. This is arguably very consistent with the ideology of the Coalition which believes in a free market and choice.

The proposal of a voluntary pre-commitment scheme also comes with an increased level of targetted psychological support and better education about the issue of gambling.

Then we have the proposal to ban live-odds being broadcast on the television during sporting events. This is where odds for sporting matches are displayed on the television in graphic or oral form throughout the match, where the odds fluctuate according to the score and status of the game.

This proposal, unlike voluntary pre-commitment is not based on the ideology of choice, but may be able to be argued as preventing harm to others. In any case it advocates a ban of a market created mechanism and therefore is not entirely consistent with the ideology.

However, the idea does seem like a very smart and perceptive proposal in the gambling debate occurring in Australia at present. I cannot remember the last person I encountered not to visibly or indeed verbally cringe at the incessant broadcast of live odds, particularly during recent football matches.

This indicates to me, along with the fact that the Coalition have put it up for discussion, that it would be a very popular idea to put forward with likely widespread community support throughout Australia.

The Coalition proposals for gambling are an interesting mix, some of which will come under consistent fire from opponents and potentially there own side of politics and some which will be welcomed by fellow politicians and the broader Australian community. It is worth reminding ourselves that these are just proposals, but in any case they are positive policy responses being put into the political sphere for debate.

About Tom Bridge

A perennial student of politics, providing commentary for money and for free. Email me at tbridgey@gmail.com or contact me on 0435 035 095 for engagements.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Federal Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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