Peter Costello

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Productivity Commission Reference - Australia's Gambling Industries

NO. 084


I have today asked the Productivity Commission to provide an information report within twelve months on Australia's gambling industries. The terms of reference for the inquiry are attached.

On 30 April 1998 I announced that the Productivity Commission would shortly undertake a fact finding public inquiry into the economic and social impacts of gambling in Australia. I also indicated that comments would be sought from the States and Territories on the terms of reference. All the States and Territories have now responded. They provided constructive comments, many of which have been incorporated into the terms of reference.

The inquiry will be undertaken by the Chairman of the Commission, Gary Banks, and Robert Fitzgerald who was President of the Australian Council of Social Services from 1993 to 1997. Mr Fitzgerald will be appointed as an Associate Commissioner for the inquiry. He has also held senior honorary positions with Australian Catholic Relief, Job Futures and the St Vincent de Paul Society. He will bring to the inquiry a wealth of practical expertise in social welfare matters, and a special sensitivity to social issues.

This is an important inquiry given the significance of the gambling industries and the level of community concern over the increasing incidence of gambling. The inquiry will provide an opportunity to comprehensively assess the performance of the gambling industries and facilitate a better understanding of their various impacts across Australia.

I have asked the Commission to report on the nature and definition of gambling activities, the participation profile of gambling, the various economic and social impacts of gambling, the effects of regulatory structures governing the gambling industries, the implications of new technologies, the impact of gambling on governments' budgets and the adequacy of ABS statistics on gambling.

The Commission will shortly release an issues paper and invite expressions of interest from parties wanting to participate in the inquiry. I encourage all interested parties to make submissions to the Commission and to attend public hearings.

People who want to register their interest in the inquiry or obtain a copy of the terms of reference can find details on the Commission's website ( or apply directly to the Commission . For more information contact Ralph Lattimore, Assistant Commissioner (Productivity Commission, Canberra) on (02) 6240 3242.

25 AUGUST 1998

Australia's Gambling Industries


I, Peter Costello, Treasurer, under Parts 2 and 3 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, hereby refer Australia's gambling industries for inquiry and the provision of an information report within twelve months of receiving this reference. The Commission is to hold hearings for the purpose of the inquiry.


2. There is a need for a better understanding of the performance of the gambling industries and their economic and social impacts across Australia, including their impact on the retail, tourism and entertainment industries and on Commonwealth and State/Territory Budgets. Little is known about the social impacts of the rapid growth in gambling.

Scope of Inquiry

3. In particular, the Commission should examine and report on:

(a) the nature and definition of gambling and the range of activities incorporated within this definition;

(b) the participation profile of gambling;

(c) the economic impacts of the gambling industries, including industry size, growth, employment, organisation and interrelationships with other industries such as tourism, leisure, other entertainment and retailing;

(d) the social impacts of the gambling industries, the incidence of gambling abuse, the cost and nature of welfare support services of government and non-government organisations necessary to address it, the redistributional effects of gambling and the effects of gambling on community development and the provision of other services;

(e) the effects of the regulatory structures - including licensing arrangements, entry and advertising restrictions, application of the mutuality principle and differing taxation arrangements - governing the gambling industries, including the implications of differing approaches for industry development and consumers;

(f) the implications of new technologies (such as the Internet), including the effect on traditional government controls on the gambling industries;

(g) the impact of gambling on Commonwealth, State and Territory Budgets; and

(h) the adequacy of ABS statistics involving gambling.

4. The Commission should take account of any recent relevant studies undertaken or underway and have regard to the economic, social, and regional development objectives of governments.


25 Aug 1998

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