Australian Minister Discussed Ad Ban, Harm Reduction With European Regulators

February 29, 2024
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A member of Australia’s government has held meetings with representatives from European regulators to discuss how to best minimise harm, as the country debates the introduction of a gambling advertising ban. 
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A member of Australia’s government has held meetings with representatives from European regulators to discuss how to best minimise harm, as the country debates the introduction of a gambling advertising ban. 

Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, attended a meeting with the Belgian gambling regulator on February 23 where she was briefed on how to implement a gambling advertising ban, according to a Guardian Australia article.

In response to the reports, a spokesperson for the minister said the government was “committed to minimising the harms associated with online wagering”.

“Minister Rowland is grateful to British and Belgian regulators for their insights into the harms associated with online wagering, and how their jurisdictions are addressing these challenges,” the spokesperson said.

Belgium severely restricted gambling advertising on July 1, 2023, as well as raising the minimum age for gambling to 21.

A spokesperson for the UK Gambling Commission confirmed it also held a meeting with Rowland last week.

“We discussed the value of international regulatory collaboration and our experiences of regulating one of the largest licensed markets in the world,” the Gambling Commission said.

In a Parliament Question Time response about banning online gambling ads on February 14, Rowland said: “The government is very concerned about the extent of gambling ads and their impacts, which is one of the reasons why we established the House of Representatives inquiry into online gambling and the impacts on those experiencing gambling harms.”

In June 2023, an Australian parliamentary committee called for online gambling advertising to be banned in its entirety in four phases over three years, the most punishing of 31 sweeping recommendations that industry lobbyists called “a step too far” and “short-sighted”.

Since then, Rowland’s department has met with a broad range of stakeholders including broadcasters, sporting codes and digital platforms.

Rowland has also personally met with several harm reduction advocates, public health experts, and academics. 

However, a key concern for the Australian government is ensuring that it avoids any unintended consequences from changing the laws around gambling advertising. 

Roland stated that the last set of restrictions introduced in 2018 led to “a 50 percent increase in the total volume of gambling spots on TV and radio, and there was an 86 percent increase on regional TV. So we need to ensure that what we are doing is guarding against those perverse outcomes.”

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