21 February 2008

All bets are on

It's a concern to see that, as the ABC reports the Victorian government has approved betting on races via TV. While it's true that alternative forms of home based betting (telephone, internet) are available, and have been for some time, the gambling industry seems always to want to take a giant step forward while not really pausing, let alone taking a step backwards, to make it easier for people to bet rather than in trying to help those who become compulsive gamblers.

It also looks as if the SA government may follow in Victoria's wake. Senator-elect Xenophon has spoken out about it, quoting the Rev Tim Costello's line about being able to lose your home without leaving it.

All this comes with little notice, and only a couple of weeks after Mr Rudd expressed his concern about the ease of access to ATMs in many gambling venues. While he didn't promise to change government policy, his raising the topic is at least an indication that he may be well disposed to introducing more restrictions on gambling at some stage in the future.

In the meantime if you're so inclined and you live in Victoria, you can sit back, relax, reach for the form guide and TV remote control and place your wagers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to gambling per se but have heard too many horror stories to believe that governments should be expanding the ways in which people can gamble. Of course, those governments rely upon gambling taxes for a significant chunk of their revenue ( I think it may be about 14 - 15% in SA) so you can hardly blame them for trying to rake in more.

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