Nick Xenophon

“Predatory” gambling companies and advertising are on the agenda for Nick Xenophon as he begins his 2016 election campaign. (Image: AAP)

“Predatory gambling” is one of the key targets that is forming part of Senator Nick Xenophon’s election campaign.

The long-time anti-pokies campaigner is running again as an independent in the upcoming election, and the campaign is set to be a marathon affair.

Team Nick Xenophon is looking at winning up to four Senate seats in his native South Australia, and predictably gambling is in the senator’s firing line.

Xenophon Sets Out Pokies Stall

There are three focus points for Nick Xenophon’s team: “predatory gambling”, Australian jobs, and accountability for government and business.

Interestingly, gambling is placed above the other two concerns on the Xenophon team website.

“We do not oppose gambling,” the statement reads, “but we are strongly committed to ending all forms of predatory gambling.

“Poker machines are the most destructive form of gambling in Australia. They are designed to be addictive and are an unsafe product.

“We believe intervention is needed by government to reform the industry. We are particularly concerned about the rise of online gambling, as well as the corrosive effects gambling has on the sporting codes we all love.”

Xenophon hasn’t said which side he will support in the event of a hung parliament, but he is keenly aware that he could hold the balance of power.

“We think there needs to be a strong, sensible voice from the political centre to act as a bridge between the left and right of politics,” Xenophon told press on Sunday. 

Indeed, in his opinion piece published on InDaily this week, Xenophon said his team would be “absolute mugs” to choose sides so early on in the campaign.

Where there have been pokies in Australia so the has been Nick Xenophon championing the problem gamblers and vulnerable as the country’s love affair with pokie machines grow.

The SA senator worked as a lawyer for 15 years before entering politics in 1997 on a firm anti-gambling stance. He became an independent senator for South Australia in 2008. This year, his name is being used to help several candidates enter the Senate, Nick Xenophon Team, and his no-nonsense approach could well see the team swing the balance of power in SA.

AANA Targeting Aussie Gambling Ads

Xenophon’s gambling manifesto finished by declaring: “We oppose gambling advertising because of the impact it has on so many Australians, especially children watching sporting broadcasts.”

So early in the campaign, Xenophon’s pledge may already have been addressed. This week the AANA (Australian Association of National Advertisers) issued a new self-regulatory code for gambling firms advertising on Aussie TV.

The new gambling advertising code applies to all sports betting, horseracing, and greyhound racing, though casinos are not subject to the rules. Interestingly, the code is self-regulatory, so the pressure will be on the betting companies to adhere. Certainly, campaigners like Xenophon are keener on an outright ban on some advertising rather than a voluntary code which may easily be ignored.

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