One week out from the NRL Grand Final, a Labor backbencher has called for an end to gambling advertising on television.
Dr Marisa Paterson, formerly a gambling researcher at the ANU, has today (26 September) launched the ‘Bets Off, Game On’ campaign and is encouraging the community to sign a petition calling on the Federal Government to block gambling advertisements on television.
“We have done so much work over the past couple of decades to stop cigarette advertising because we know advertising works, yet we have let our guard down and now our sport and TV is overrun by gambling ads,” Dr Paterson said.
“Sport should not be synonymous with gambling. Kids in Australia should not grow up knowing the betting companies as much as they know the teams in their favourite sport.
“These international betting companies contribute nothing to our community, yet they extract billions of dollars a year and cause countless harm to Australian families.”
The Federal Government last week announced one of its committees would inquire into online gambling and its impacts on the community.
The completed petition will form part of a submission Dr Paterson will hand to that inquiry.
She is encouraging anyone in the community with a story to share about the impacts of online gambling to reach out to her office. Submissions can be made anonymously.
Dr Paterson said online sports gambling is the most harmful form of regulated gambling in the ACT. Research shows that 35 per cent of people who bet on sports or special events online experience gambling harm, compared with 26 per cent of poker machine players.
Online gambling increased during 2020 and 2021 as COVID-19-induced lockdowns closed pubs and clubs where many people accessed gaming machines.
Instead of going out with friends, people signed up to online betting and gambling platforms. According to one survey, young males were most likely to spend more money and gamble more frequently at home.
It’s estimated around 44,000 people are impacted by either first or second-hand gambling harm in the ACT.
Earlier this year, Dr Paterson successfully moved a motion in the ACT Legislative calling on the government to conduct a comprehensive review of online gambling.
Locally, the ACT Government has set its sights on poker machines and their prevalence in Canberra’s clubs.
A raft of initiatives are underway in that space, including surrender initiatives.
The government also intends to introduce a central monitoring system and tighten limits on poker machines.
The government is currently consulting with poker-machine operators, but clubs already have reservations about who will foot the bill.
Earlier this year, ClubsACT CEO Craig Shannon pointed the finger at online gambling and betting apps being more concerning than poker machines.
He noted this form of gambling is unlike poker machines as there are no watchful eyes.
“If we get rid of [poker machines] completely, we put people out onto the streets and into their homes, and there are no eyes and assistance models for them,” he told Region.
Minister for Gaming Shane Rattenbury told the Legislative Assembly in June the government wanted to deal with all issues relating to gambling harm.
“This is not an either/or situation. For too long, in my view, we have not taken the strong measures that we should on poker machines,” he said.
“But at the same time, we also need to address online gaming issues. This is a space where we need to work together.”
If gambling harm impacts you, a friend or a family member, you can get free, confidential online support at gamblinghelponline.org.au or speak to a support person on 1800 858 858.