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‘Commercial sensitivities’ bizarrely stop Fed. Govt. reporting on gambling harm efforts

13 Mar 2024

Gambling harm is a major public health issue in Australia and yet is beggars belief that the Federal Government doesn’t report on its expenditure to tackle gambling harm due to “commercial sensitivities”.


The CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said the bizarre situation demonstrated the power of the gambling industry and how it has captured government.

“We know investment into preventing and reducing gambling harm at a federal level is grossly lacking, but the lack of transparency on just how little the government invests in this critical public health issue is both disturbing and farcical,” Ms Bennett said.
“The Federal Government is investing $737 million to fund various measures to protect Australians against the harm caused by tobacco and vaping products, there is an extremely strong argument that the same level of expenditure should be urgently devoted to reducing gambling harm.”


In its 2024-25 Pre-Budget Submission, the Alliance says gambling harm is a public health issue that is rapidly growing and impacting millions of Australians.

“Australians lose more to gambling per capita than any other country in the world, with over $25 billion lost in 2018/19 (the only full financial year data we have since the covid pandemic interrupted land-based gambling),” the submission said.
“Gambling harm extends beyond addiction, often impacting many people, not just the person gambling. Family members, friends, employers and the broader community can also be harmed by someone else’s gambling.”
“A recent study by the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Family Studies Gambling Research Centre found that of regular gamblers, those who were at the greatest risk of harm are aged between 18 and 34 years.”


The Alliance recommends that the federal government urgently funds a comprehensive national strategy on reducing gambling harm with expenditure similar to the $737m that it is spending on its commitment to protect people from tobacco and vaping products.


“We also urge the government to make a similar investment towards a public health information campaign around gambling and gambling related harms - mirroring that of the $63m that will be invested in the vaping and smoking campaign,” the submission said.
“Further, $30m invested into support programs and training among health practitioners would have a significant impact in tackling gambling harms.”


The submission also calls for Federal Government funding of a national peak body that was focused on reducing gambling harm and which highlighted lived experience and gambling harm from a public health perspective.

Carol Bennett is available for interview.

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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