Measuring influence: an analysis of Australian gambling industry political donations and policy decisions

Maggie Johnson, Charles Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Existing Australian (and global) gambling harm prevention and minimization measures are overwhelmingly based on self-regulation, using largely ineffective measures focused on individual behavior change. This is substantially attributable to resistance to effective policy change, driven by a well-organized and significantly resourced gambling industry. It is evident that the gambling industry (like tobacco, alcohol and the processed foods industry) has actively sought political engagement as a mechanism to resist policy change. However, unlike tobacco and alcohol, little research has been undertaken to examine gambling industry influence on policymaking. This study aims to describe and analyze the pattern of disclosed financial donations received by Australian politicians and political parties from major gambling industry actors during the period 1998–2018. Further, it examines apparent temporal relationships between donations and gambling legislation or policy positions. Material and methods: Donation data were sourced for the period 1998–2018 from the Australian Electoral Commission website. All data were classified according to donor and recipient and analyzed to provide descriptive statistics. Donations earmarked for specific campaigns, politicians’ electorates or events were also identified. Results: The findings demonstrate that members of the gambling industry are consistent and substantial donors to both major parties in Australia. Furthermore, the pattern of donations provides evidence of temporal relationships between donations and federal and state gambling policy decisions and positions. Conclusions: Close examination of industry corporate political activities like political donations supports a greater understanding of the factors that influence the gambling policy environment and, as with tobacco, will contribute to more effective regulation to prevent and address harm.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 2020

Keywords

  • corporate political activity
  • Gambling
  • policy

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