Senator Nick Xenophon said new Australian Gambling Statistics figures showing Australian punters lost almost $23billion last year are “alarming, and an indictment on state and federal governments that have failed to act on the urgent need for gambling reform”.

Senator Xenophon, who has long campaigned for poker machine reforms, said the fact poker machines were still the biggest cause of losses and losses had increased by 4.9 per cent showed “the major failure by the major parties on predatory gambling”. He also pointed to the 30 per cent increase in sports betting in just a 12 month period and said “this sector is growing at a malignant rate and with that growth we will see a significant and serious increase in problem gambling and harm”.

“I will be re-introducing my Interactive Gambling Amendment (Sports Betting Reform) Bill and with these figures it deserves bi-partisan support, but I won’t hold my breath given the power of the gambling lobby,” Nick said.

“Governments can no longer ignore not only the huge amount of money lost on gambling but the harm gambling causes to our communities.”

An estimated 400,000 Australians either have a significant gambling problem or are showing signs of developing a full blown addiction according to previous Productivity Commission research. Each problem gambler affects the lives of seven others which means well over 2 million Australians are directly impacted in a negative way by gambling.

Senator Xenophon and his Team will push for the following legislative reforms on pokies:

1. $1 maximum bets per spin and $120 per hour maximum losses compared to the $1200 per hour that can be lost now.

2. Making machines ‘con free’ by outlawing addictive features such as ‘near misses’ and ‘free spins’.

3. Challenging the major parties to change technical standards for machines immediately so they can be ‘$1 bet ready’ given the lead time needed for these changes.

And with online gambling:

1. Banning credit and in-play betting which both fuel gambling addiction.

2. Outlawing the broadcast of sports betting ads during games, especially during G-rated periods and when children are likely to be watching sport on TV.

3. An end to ‘ball by ball’ micro-betting which carries both macro opportunities for gambling addiction and corruption in sport.

4.  A clamp down on illegal offshore online casinos and betting sites by targeted disruption of their financial transactions.

5. A ‘one-stop-shop’ to allow online problem gamblers to be barred from betting sites.