Following Senator Nick Xenophon’s pronouncement earlier last week, South Australia’s Consumer and Business Services Minister has advised the state’s gambling authority to ban all forms of betting related to video games. But Senator Nick Xenophon went a little further on the weekend, saying that Mario Kart had been used as a vehicle for gambling.
In a release on the South Australian Premier’s website, Consumer and Business Services Minister John Rau said he had advised the state’s gambling regulator, the Independent Gambling Authority, to “not approve betting on computer game sporting events irrespective of where the event occurs”.
The release goes on to say that the Northern Territory “is the only jurisdiction” which permits esports betting, despite the fact that Crown Casino in Victoria permits bets on organised video game tournaments through Crownbet, including bets on tournaments held at Crown itself.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the attraction of gambling on sporting contests conducted on the platform of video games,” Minister Rau said. “The Government is determined to keep our children cyber safe. We do not want them to be introduced to gambling under the guise of a game.”
The minister’s statement was followed up by a release from Senator Nick Xenophon on Saturday, which claimed that the ban had impacted a Mario Kart tournament being held in Adelaide that day.
“Nick Xenophon has called for a national approach to betting on e-sports which will be part of a Senate inquiry he will be pushing for on this issue,” the Senator said in a release. “Mario Kart is a fantastic game that many millions of people around the world have enjoyed, but there are legitimate questions to ask about a kids game being used as a vehicle for online bookmakers and for gambling.”
The event supposedly affected was the “Mario Kart 8 Ultimate Challenge” at the Titanium Security Arena in South Australia’s Findon. It’s not known how the new ban would have affected the tournament though, as attendees were charged an entry fee to compete against each other. The event appeared to run without a hitch, with Nick Xenophon even attending to have a little fun with some indie games.
Tom Radomski, managing director of the Esports Gamers League which organised the Mario Kart event, told me that Senator Xenophon was quite supportive of the event when he spoke to him on Saturday. “It’s quite interesting how he’s made that [connection],” Radomski told me, when I asked what he thought of the Senator connecting Mario Kart to gambling in his release.
What’s even more unclear is how the Mario Kart tournament would have been affected by the South Australian government’s ban in the first place, being a physical tournament with no internet access. Radomski added that he supported the intention to weed out illegal and unregulated gambling, but the Senator appeared to not “have [the] right information at the time” the release was posted on his website.
The SA government stressed that it would continue to use educational games, with the state having previously encouraged school children to help redesign the state’s national parks in Minecraft.