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Potential ad ban!!

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has today tabled the report of its inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm. Chair of the Committee, Ms Peta Murphy MP, said ‘Australians are the biggest losers in the world when it comes to gambling. We have a culture where sport and gambling are intrinsically linked. These behaviours are causing increasingly widespread and serious harm to individuals, families, and communities.’

The investigation examined whether the existing regulations governing online gambling and gambling advertising in Australia are suitable and align with the expectations of the community. The Committee was presented with compelling testimonies from individuals who have personally experienced the negative consequences of online gambling, as well as input from academic and health professionals, prominent organisations, community groups, and concerned individuals. These contributions shed light on the detrimental effects of online gambling on everyday Australians, their loved ones, and the communities they belong to.

The Report has found that Australians are displeased with the inundation of messages and incentives promoting online gambling, and they express concerns about its impact on children and young individuals. The majority of Australians believe that gambling has harmful consequences for society and that it has become excessively accessible in Australia.

A 2022 survey revealed that nearly half of Australians placed bets on sports or racing, with around two-thirds of these individuals being at risk of harm. The convenience of gambling through mobile phones has made it easier than ever to experience significant financial losses.

Online gambling distinguishes itself from other forms of entertainment due to its potential to cause various types of harm, including psychological, health, relationship, legal, and financial harm to both individuals and those around them. Tragically, gambling is also identified as a significant risk factor for suicide. Gambling disorder, which shares similarities with substance addictions, can develop as an individual's gambling progresses into a behavioral addiction. Presently, there are limited safeguards in place to protect individuals with gambling disorder from the harm associated with online gambling.

Additionally, the stigma surrounding gambling-related harm often prevents people from seeking help, creating a silencing effect. Even those who do seek assistance face difficulties in accessing appropriate treatment and support.

Ms Murphy said, ‘Gambling advertising and simulated gambling through video games, is grooming children and young people to gamble and encourages riskier behaviour. The torrent of advertising is inescapable. It is manipulating an impressionable and vulnerable audience to gamble online.’

‘A phased, comprehensive ban on online gambling advertising is recommended within three years. This will give major sports and broadcasters time to find alternative advertisers and sponsors, while preventing another generation from experiencing escalating gambling harm.’ Ms Murphy said.

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