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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 22 August 2015
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 22 AUGUST 2015 Xenophon vows to crunch sports bet credit ‘Duds, Mugs and A-list report’ shows young men caught in debt spiral In the wake of a landmark report by Australia's peak financial counsellors' organisation, Senator Nick Xenophon has promised to introduce legislation to cut off the provision of credit to gamblers by sports betting firms. "Increasing numbers of Australians, mostly young men, are falling prey to the predatory approaches and easy credit of [these] firms. It is deeply troubling that these firms can use unregulated credit to hook young gamblers on betting. It has to stop," said the senator. Senator Xenophon this week launched the 'Duds, Mugs and the A-List report', published by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA), which sets out the insidious practices of online sports betting firms, and the disastrous consequences for people drawn into debt after being given access to credit. The title of the report comes from a quote from a former employee of a sports betting then increase the credit to keep them engaged, often for higher and higher stakes as the punter chases mounting losses. Sports betting firms also used direct email and phone calls to 'bond' with their customers, along with enticements such as free tickets to sporting events to attract predominantly young male gamblers. Nick Xenophon: championing federal regulation of sports betting. PHOTO: AAP/DAVID MOIR. company who described how the company he worked for segmented its customers. "'A-List' customers are wined and dined and offered credit ranging from $100,000$500,000, 'B list' customers are 'serious credit punters' and are offered up to $20,000 in credit. The 'duds' or 'mugs' are everyone else: this group is offered $200-$500 of unsolicited credit." The FCA report related case studies of individuals losing tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars after being encouraged to continue bet- ting to recover losses. One punter lost $160,000 in just four sports betting sessions. Compared to traditional forms of gambling, internet sports betting - through outlets such as Sportsbet, Bet365 and Tom Waterhouse. Com - "turbo charged the risks of problem gambling", with firms using aggressive, high-tech strategies to target young men, increasingly to the point of ruin, said Sentaor Xenophon. Chief among the tactics em- ployed is to provide credit to entice new gamblers and Senator Xenophon said his legislation would ban the provision of credit by sports betting firms, as was promised by the Coalition before the last election. Despite providing credit and using often brutal means to recover debts within weeks of being incurred, sports betting firms are beyond the reach of Australia's consumer credit protection laws. The firms, most of which are registered in the Northern Territory where credit rules are lax, are not required to hold an Australian Credit Licence or Australian Financial Services Licence. Extending credit to online gamblers is already illegal in Victoria. Following global trends, the sports betting industry in Australia has grown rapidly over the past five years and is forecast to grow at a faster rate than other forms of gambling, replacing horseracing, which is declining. Pokies review calls for local input With hundreds of millions of dollars being lost by Victorians on poker machines, local governments are pushing for reform ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is calling for input from local communities and councils in the upcoming review of gaming machine entitlements. According to MAV president, Councillor Bill McArthur, Victorians lost almost $70 million more on gaming machines last year compared to 2013-14 - the first increase on losses since 2008. In a bid to reverse the trend, he said extensive consultation communities from inappropriate placement of poker machines through the Enough Pokies campaign. This data adds to concerns the losses are in communities that can least afford it," he said. Two of the worst hit areas last year were Monash, with punters' losses coming in at over $114 million, and Whittlesea, with pokie users losing $100 million. Whittlesea councillor Mary Lalios with Reverend Tim Costello, CEO World Vision Australia, and Monash City Mayor Paul Klisaris. regarding the future distribution and operation of gaming machines was necessary. "It seems the harm-minimisation approaches currently in place are no longer effective. More needs to be done to minimise the impact this industry is having on families and com- munities," Cr McArthur said. The MAV president added that the latest data reinforces the need for community members and councils to have a say in the review process. "Councils and the MAV have been advocating for better protection for vulnerable Both suburbs are considered as low socio-economic regions. Problem gambling has been known to contribute to housing and job losses, financial stresses, mental health issues, relationship breakdowns and increased crime. The review process will aim to ensure the best interests of the communities are finally given priority, with an opportunity to reduce the number of machines across the state. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Migration the key to Australia’s economic future Research shows spouses of skilled migrants underused Migration plays a critical role in Australia's present and future economic wellbeing and will boost Australia's GDP per capita by 5.9 per cent by 2050, and the settlement of migrants and refugees can have economic and social benefits for Australia as a nation as well as for individual communities. These are some of the findings from a unique event looking at the latest research, views and commentary on current issues affecting refugee and new arrival settlement in Australia, held in Canberra. The event, titled 'Skills, Settlement and Social Cohesion: Getting the most from Australia's migration and refugee initiatives', was staged by AMES Australia and the Migration Council of Australia to contribute to the knowledge of the increased movement (forced and voluntary) of people at the global, regional, national and local levels and to consider the implications for Australia. Migration Council of Australia policy analyst Henry Sherrell told the forum recent research showed the clear economic benefits of migration. "Our research refutes the idea that migration reduces the capacity of Australians to find work. The reality is that migration plays a role in addressing inequality and in generating opportunities for lower income workers," Mr Sherrell said. "The impact of migration is highly positive. It brings an improved employment to population ratio, drives higher consumption while migrants draw less on government services and contribute a net fiscal benefit through taxes paid," he said. Mr Sherrell said that there was no evidence anywhere in the world showing migration having a negative impact on employment. "Our current migration program will add 14 million people to the population by 2050, and without it our GDP per capita would be six per cent lower," Mr Sherrell said. In opening the event, Swinburne University historian Professor Klaus Neumann told the forum the debate around forced migration would benefit from global and historical perspectives. "In 1949, in the aftermath of World War II, Australia accepted 75,000 displaced persons at a time of housing shortages and without the affluence we have now. In 2013, at the height of boat arrivals, we accepted just 20,000 displaced persons," said Professor Neumann, the author of 'Across the Seas; Australia's response to refugees'. AMES Australia researcher Dr Lisa Thomson presented research that showed the considerable skills possessed by spouses of skilled migrants were going to waste. "What we have here is a lost opportunity, because most of the partners of skilled migrants who come to this country are themselves highly skilled. These people, mostly women, could be making contributions to the economy and utilising their skills," Dr Thomson said. AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said she hoped the event and other similar forums would inform debate on migration. "We are hoping that our discussions today will help us set up a framework for a productive debate around Australia's response to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and create a discussion within the settlement sector about the benefits and challenges of all forms of migration both for Australia and internationally," she said.
15 August 2015
29 August 2015