Providing Help To Problem Gamblers

Providing Help To Problem Gamblers

Victoria Minister for Gaming Michael O’Brien

Victorian Coalition Government Delivers On Commitment To Help Problem Gamblers

Victor P Taffa

The Victorian Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to reduce the prevalence and severity of problem gambling with the introduction of legislation into Parliament today to establish the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

The legislation which draws heavily upon the successful VicHealth model will create a service delivery body focused on tackling problem gambling and fostering responsible gambling.

Minister for Gaming Michael O’Brien said the creation of the Foundation and record funding support showed the Coalition Government was serious about reducing the harm caused to Victorians by problem gambling.

“This legislation sends a clear message that the prevention and treatment of problem gambling is a top priority for the Coalition Government.” Mr. O’Brien said.

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Bill 2011 establishes a new organisation with a mandate to reduce the prevalence of problem gambling and the severity of gambling-related harm. It will also have a role to foster responsible gambling in Victoria.

“Our commitment means that for the first time, Victoria will have an independent body with the specific task of reducing the prevalence and severity of problem gambling.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Decisions over the funding of research, treatment and communications that were previously decided by the Minister for Gaming will be in the hands of the Foundation.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“This is the biggest investment in reducing the harm caused by problem gambling of any Australian state or territory, with $150 Million committed by the Coalition Government over the next four years.”

The Foundation will commission problem gambling research, develop and implement communication and education strategies and work with key organisations such as Gambler’s Help to deliver counselling and treatment services.

“The structure of the Foundation also recognises the legitimate concerns of Victorians about the perceived conflict of interest between government as a regulator of gambling activities, a beneficiary of gambling taxation revenue and a body responsible for delivering problem gambling programs and services.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Labor failed to recognise this conflict during 11 years in government and has said little about problem gambling since losing office.”

“Establishing this Foundation puts the day-to-day decisions about prevention programs, advertising campaigns, treatment services and problem gambling-related research out of the hands of government and into the hands of an independent body.”

“We are committed to funding measures that will treat today’s problem gamblers and help to reduce the numbers of future problem gamblers.” Mr. O’Brien said.

The Foundation will have a board of between seven and eleven members, three of whom will be elected Members of Parliament. This will promote a bipartisan, consensus approach to the Foundation’s work.

The Foundation is expected to be established and fully operational by mid-2012.