The Australian Government Has Been Urged to Clamp Down on Gambling Advertising – Parliamentary Inquiry Expected This Week

June 19, 2023 | Advertising

SYDNEY, Australia (June 12, 2023) —  According to local media reports the Australian government has been urged to seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to clamp down on gambling advertising, as anti-gambling advocates and public health experts await the outcome of a parliamentary inquiry that is expected to issue policy recommendations this week.

The ‘Guardian‘ reported Monday that the head of the inquiry, Labor MP Peta Murphy, has already cited powerful evidence of community harm, and the recommendations are expected to call for further restrictions to gambling advertisements before and after live sport broadcasts.

That idea now has bipartisan support. The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, used his budget reply speech to lobby for change and the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has expressed his personal dislike of the ads.

While few will miss the ads, which have led to children being able to identify companies by their brand colours, pushback from some in the industry is likely. Peak bodies have already warned of cuts to grassroots sport or to free coverage of sport if advertising revenue drops.

But community opposition to the ads has hardened since the inquiry was launched days before the 2022 AFL grand final. A recent survey of 3,000 AFL fans found gambling ads were their most common concern, with a majority supporting an outright ban. That is unlikely to happen, despite some support from some MPs across all sides of politics.

Tim Costello, a prominent anti-gambling campaigner, said “a chance of bipartisanship is possible to break the grip of the saturation gambling advertising”.

“Like tobacco advertising, which is now banned, a prohibition on gambling advertising should be the goal,” Costello said.

Some gambling companies accept public sentiment has shifted. Tabcorp, one of the biggest bookies that is expanding its online presence, has vowed to restrict ads even if regulation is not tightened. Others acknowledge community concern.

Campaigners believe restricting ads is one of the easiest reforms available to government. More difficult changes include the creation of a national online gambling regulator with more resources and power than state and territory alternatives.

Most online gambling companies are registered in the Northern Territory, where they receive favourable tax treatment. Many campaigners have criticised the fines imposed by this body as too low to force compliance from gambling companies.

The Albanese government has already introduced two changes in its first term: a ban on credit card use for online gambling and updated warning slogans to replace the much-criticised “gamble responsibly” catchphrase at the end of adverts.

When pressed to take further action in response to community concerns, ministers have routinely said they will wait to see what the gambling harm inquiry recommends.

SOURCE: The Guardian

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