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Local Victorian mayor spearheads gambling reform

3 min. read
A clock waking people up.

The divisiveness of gambling and gambling-related advertisement in Australia is prompting some local lawmakers and officials to take matters into their own hands. One of those is the City of Monash’s mayor, Tina Samardzija, who believes that the government has been too slow to act in restricting the pervasiveness of gambling advertisements.

According to Samardzija, the time to act is now, and while there is no state-level policy to restrict gambling advertisement at local sports matches, the mayor is confident that her city and council can lead the way for others, starting a change from the ground-up.

The policy is fairly simple. Samardzija’s plan is to prohibit sports clubs from advertising gambling company logos and assets and having their logos displayed at venues that feature gambling machines. Should they fail to comply, they will end up banned from council grounds and clubhouses, the mayor explained.

All of this comes not because of some animosity towards the gambling sector, but rather because of local concern for the community’s young people. "In my view, there is nothing that’s more of a local government issue than kids going to play sport at their local clubs and being exposed to a message that gambling is normal," she said cited by The Guardian.

The mayor’s decision to act is not taken in a vacuum with all across Australia consumers rallying against gambling advertisements. In fact, the majority of consumers find gambling advertisements to be a more serious issue – or object to it more in general – than they do to advertisements from petrol companies.

However, local clubs are not entirely happy. Mulgrave Country Club, which amasses $7.1m in gaming revenue and sponsors local sports clubs across a number of disciplines, argues that those clubs are concerned about the support drying up.

And yet, Samardzija says that clubs should not expect "thanks" for doing what they are registered to do as not-for-profit organizations. Another person to object is the President of the Community Clubs Victoria, Andrew Lloyd, who has called the mayor’s action politically unfair and unjust.

"The financial implications of this policy are very concerning for us," Lloyd continued. It’s as if the landlord, in this case, the mayor, is trying to make decisions as to who can and who cannot sponsor a club, he added.

Clubs are facing other challenges as well, including the introduction of a cashless gaming card that is likely to end up treating customers as "criminals," NSW RSL and Services Club Chief Executive Margot Smith said in a recent statement.

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17 Jan 2023
3 min. read
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