Documents obtained by The Greens show the NSW Government provided the racing industry with special exemptions from 'inducement to gamble’ laws that passed the Parliament in March.
The “carve outs” were granted despite the Government acknowledging the importance of the laws in closing loopholes that had allowed “undesirable conduct” by racing gambling businesses that were causing gambling harm to those “who cannot afford to bet”.
The exemptions were published in Gambling Advertising and Inducements Guidelines in July. The extensive lobbying efforts by Racing NSW, online betting businesses and broadcasters including Seven West Media, to gain favourable treatment under the laws were uncovered in response to a freedom of information request by The Greens.
NSW Greens gambling harm spokesperson Justin Field said, “The Berijiklian Government has once again caved to vested interests in the racing industry and it has done so despite acknowledging that it was putting the profits of the racing industry, gambling businesses and big broadcasters ahead of the wellbeing of the community.
In a letter dated 29 March, two weeks after the legislation passed the Parliament, the CEO’s of Racing NSW, Racing.com and Seven West Media wrote to the Government seeking exemptions for racing related gambling promotions.
The letter was copied to Racing Australia CEO and former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.
The letter made clear that “wagering” is racing’s primary income and its “raison d’etre” and that its growth is “highly dependent” on media distribution and promotional support which is in turn “dependent on wagering advertising”.
Being more specific to the impact the law changes would have on the industry, the letter states, “We’re concerned that brand and price wagering advertising alone will be insufficient to sustain national media platforms coverage of thoroughbred racing”
Mr Field said, “The racing industry is condemned by their own words. It is a morally bankrupt industry whose business model is built on gambling harm caused by inducing people to gamble more and more often.
“These documents put to rest any suggestion the promotion planned for our Opera House tonight is about promoting some unique Sydney event. It’s just a gambling promotion designed to drive profits for Racing NSW, the big gambling businesses and their broadcast partners.
“These documents show there is an organised coalition of vested interests that have been working to shape gambling and racing laws to protect their profits against the public interest.
“It’s disgraceful that the Berijiklian Government has caved again to pressure from vested commercial interests in the racing and gambling sector despite being aware of the harm gambling inducements are causing to individuals and the community," Mr Field said.
NOTE: The documents obtained under NSW freedom of information laws can be viewed here. (The documents specifically quoted in this release include No. 3 and No. 10)
Photo credit: Bradley Photos