LOTTERIES COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL
SECOND READING


LOTTERIES COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL - SECOND READING
House:LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY- SECOND READING
Date:3.55 PM THURSDAY, 18 June 1998
Member:
Member:McHale, Ms Sheila
Subject:LOTTERIES COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL - SECOND READING
Page:4294 / 1

nothing. It was felt that introducing lotteries would give people an opportunity to gain something as well as give money to charity.

One of the current issues facing the Lotteries Commission is perhaps no longer having to deal with the threat of opportunities for gambling from interstate. However, the real dilemma now is between gambling in Western Australia versus gambling internationally through the Internet. It is a current issue because gambling through the Internet and through the website Cyberbet is happening now. Although the amendments in the upper House have curtailed opportunities for Internet gambling, it is very much a real issue.

The Government cannot ignore the fact that cybergambling and gambling on the Internet is happening. Many people think that is wrong and do not accept the logic that, as it exists, it is better to capitalise on it as a State and ensure that some revenue comes to the State. I tend towards the view that it might be better to ensure revenue is obtained from that gambling, rather than its going elsewhere. Perhaps the Government can control it, if it is controllable. There are debates about whether gambling on the Internet is controllable and how it could be done. Nevertheless, that is certainly a debate that must be held fairly soon rather than its being left to much later.

The dilemma of curtailing gambling, as opposed to its availability across borders, was a problem facing the Government in 1932. The Minister for Railways said, and he made a very critical and important point that is relevant today -
      It is useless to complain against the conduct of lotteries within our own borders and for the benefit of our own people, especially when it would be for the benefit of our sick and maimed, and of our orphans and widows, and yet permit this money to be sent out of the State to the advantage of similar people elsewhere. I have always understood that charity begins at home.

In 1932 that Government said that if it did not control gambling, it would happen anyway so it should obtain the money for this State's orphans, widows and the maimed. The Lotteries Commission has extended its generosity, but the issue is still relevant today, as it was then.

The member for Perth talked about feelings in the community of the effect of gambling on our social fabric. That should be at the forefront of our thinking. I know the Lotteries Commission and, in particular, the chief executive officer, take that issue very seriously and are aware of the potential damage to society. Again, back in the 1930s it was said by one member of Parliament -
      I have no doubt in my mind about the menace of gambling to the community. . . Gambling, however, has reached such proportions in the City of Perth that some action must be taken against it.

That person recognised that gambling was part of our social fabric, and it has been for hundreds of years. There was almost a view, and people reconciled themselves to this view, that men, particularly in those days - and even some women and children in the 1930s - would gamble anyway so it should be made legal.

In the 1930s raising funds for charitable organisations was a problem, as it is now. The Government of the day had some useful insights into why people gambled. In the second reading debate members spoke of poverty and addiction. This is still the context in which many people bet and gamble today. Hon W.D. Johnson said about gambling -
      It is true that to-day gambling is on the increase. It is true also that women and children who never gambled before are gambling to-day. The reason for that is not very hard to find. It is due to the fact that people who usually have sufficient to maintain them are not getting enough today.
      . . .that the only hope of putting things right for them was to win a Tattersall's sweep.

People then were betting because they did not have enough money and they thought about what they would do if they won the lottery. Their imaginations then were as fertile as people's imaginations are today. Some may dream about going to Tuscany and others about buying a boat.

Mr Cowan: The advertisement promotes the dream.

Ms McHALE: Probably in the 1930s their dream was about buying a loaf of bread or a decent side of beef. The principle is the same - it is the dream and the hope.

The lessons to be learnt from the debate when the Lotteries (Control) Bill was first introduced are important ones for today. It would be remiss of me not to refer to Hon P. Collier, who wanted to protect future generations from gambling. He opposed the Bill, and was concerned that it would be deleterious to the community's moral standards. He said -