WA Premier calls for tighter sports gambling laws

In National Headlines, Western Australia

From Perth Now

PREMIER Colin Barnett says there is too much betting in sport and wants tougher controls on gambling, saying he has had enough of betting agencies and bookmakers “bombarding” fans and children.

He said viewers were flooded with betting advertisements during televised AFL, rugby, cricket and soccer games, while betting was encouraged by constantly “flashing odds up” on the TV screen leading to addiction and financial ruin for some families.

Mr Barnett said this week’s “appalling” revelations of widespread drug use, organised crime links and possible match-fixing had been fuelled by the high-stakes world of sports betting.

In a veiled reference to online betting agency Tom Waterhouse, he said “men in stylish suits” were behind the “enticement to bet continually”, convincing fans they needed to bet on sport to enjoy it.

“That’s where the regulation is needed. It’s too much in our face,” the Premier said.

“We’ve got children watching all these big games and I don’t think they need to be deluged with enticement about gambling. They may well grow up to be gamblers. It’s gone too far.

“They flash the odds up, make it look attractive, men in stylish suits (saying) ‘This is what you do, it’s cool’. Well I don’t think it’s cool. There is too much emphasis on gambling.

“Imagine someone sitting down watching a game, maybe having a couple of beers with their mates, then suddenly they start betting and gambling beyond what they can afford.”

The Australian Crime Commission on Thursday released a bombshell report uncovering widespread doping in Australian sport as well as the involvement of organised crime and potential match fixing.

Mr Barnett said his Government was in caretaker mode ahead of the March election and would not cut any sports funding, but he admitted fans were sick of drug cheats and taxpayers did not want money spent on bent sports.

He warned clubs, after the election and if he was returned as Premier, that he would consider axing or reducing funding if codes or teams were found to be endorsing performance enhancing drugs.

“A lot of taxpayers’ money goes into sport. The wider community will question it. The clubs, if they’ve been found doing the wrong thing, need to immediately change that,” he said.

Despite the question mark hanging over WA’s sporting heroes, Mr Barnett said he didn’t want players named and shamed.

“Let’s protect these young players. I don’t think they need to be brought out in the public because they probably didn’t know what was going on. They were just doing whatever they were told to do for the team… being told to inject this or swallow that,” he said.

“Now for those young kids to know they may have been injected with some drug or supplement… that is so unfair. There’s literally thousands of parents around Australia today saying: ‘What’s happened to our son or daughter? Have they been injected with growth hormones or whatever else?’ That’s a real breach of trust.”

He urged children to continue to revere their sporting heroes and remember sport was ultimately about fun.

Opposition leader Mark McGowan said if he was elected Premier, a Labor Government would “have a good look at what resources are devoted to this issue and make sure we look at laws” to stamp out drug cheating.

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