Every year, Australians lose billions to gambling. With hundreds of millions lost on a monthly basis, gambling is quickly becoming a top health concern for the country. But while gambling is a broad term, it’s not only the pokie machines that result in millions of dollars in losses. Amid the growing popularity of sports betting, more Australians enjoy placing wagers, resulting in a further increase in the money lost.
Australia’s government launched an inquiry into online gambling as it sought to determine its impact on people affected by gambling addiction. While the results of the inquiry are expected soon, more lawmakers, as well as public health experts advocate for the implementation of strict rules for betting advertising.
Samantha Thomas, a gambling and health researcher with Deakin University, who was recently interviewed by The Guardian, showed support for an effective ban on gambling advertising. She asked lawmakers to consider recognizing betting as a public health issue and supported additional powers for the country’s health department.
Thomas noted that such rules will be able to restrict the exposure of children to betting promotions and marketing materials. At the same time, she pointed out: “Just like we did with tobacco, we must ensure that gambling harm prevention policies are protected from the vested interests of the gambling industry and those who profit from it.”
A Bipartisan Support for Betting Ads Ban Is Possible
While a ban on betting advertising can restrict the exposure of children to such materials, lawmakers need to be united to push forward meaningful changes. The recent report reveals that the ban on gambling ads is likely to have a shot at bipartisan support, judging by one anti-gambling supporter, Tim Costello. According to him, by joining forces, lawmakers can push regulations that “break the grip of the saturation gambling advertising.”
“Like tobacco advertising, which is now banned, a prohibition on gambling advertising should be the goal. Just as it is unacceptable for children to know the brands Peter Stuyvesant and Marlboro cigarettes, why should they know Sportsbet or Bet365?“
Costello pointed out that the advertising of tobacco is currently banned and according to him, the same type of ban needs to be imposed for gambling ads. He deemed as unacceptable to see children knowing cigarette brands the same way it is unacceptable for them to know betting companies. Finally, Costello pointed out that betting advertising contributed to an increase in the losses to online gambling, which in Australia are 20% higher per capita when compared to other countries.
While talks about banning betting ads go on, the government in New South Wales recently confirmed plans to ban external gambling signs. This was part of a broader effort by the state to curb the losses to gambling by banning any ads that promote “VIP Lounges” or similar activities that evaded the regulation for direct external gambling advertising.