Australia: Parliamentary committee calls for total ban on gambling adverts within three years

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The much-awaited parliamentary inquiry report on gambling has been made public today. Among the 31 recommendations, one of them is to ban all forms of gambling advertisements in a phased manner within the next three years as it can cause serious harm through addiction and groom children to become gamblers in the future.

According to the report, the current practice of partially banning gambling advertisements do not work. A phased, comprehensive ban is the most effective way as it cannot be circumvented in any way.

According to a survey conducted in 2022 around half of all Australian residents had placed a bet on sports or racing and a report from H2 Gambling Capital states that on average, Australians gamble online 20% more than any other country.

The parliamentary committee chair Peta Murphy said, “Online gambling has been deliberately and strategically marketed alongside sport, which has normalized it as a fun, harmless, and sociable activity. Gambling advertising is grooming children and young people to gamble and encourages riskier behavior. The torrent of advertising is inescapable.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also supportive of a total ban on gambling advertisements. He believes that solely focusing on online betting is not enough and the problem needs to be dealt with comprehensively across the board.

“There is absolutely a need for a national strategy to combat the profound gambling harm that is being wrought in communities across Australia. Each year gambling rips AU$25 billion ($16.5 billion) in losses out of our communities,” Albanese said as quoted by Asia Gaming Brief.

As of now, gambling advertisements in Australia cannot be aired within five minutes of a sporting event starting or finishing. There are some exceptions for certain sports with long breaks such as tennis and cricket, but that is applicable only after 8.30 pm.

Due to the current restrictions, Murphy says that gambling advertisements have significantly increased when they are allowed and the Australian residents also feel the same. A report by Nielsen Research supports the notion, mentioning that the gambling industry spent $310 million on advertising in 2022.

The parliamentary committee also found several people suffering a great deal due to gambling addiction which prompted it to acknowledge that this is a collective responsibility and a public health issue and not a matter of each individual’s choice.

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