Only total ban on gambling advertising will protect our children
1 May 2023
Only a complete ban on gambling advertising will protect children from being directly targeted by the gambling industry, a major conference on preventing gambling harm has heard today.
“There is clear evidence that the gambling and alcohol industry is targeting children through social media in ‘dark adverts’ that are directly tailored to individuals under 18 years of age,“ CEO of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Caterina Giorgi, said.
She was speaking at the Tackling Gambling Harm in Australia symposium in Adelaide today jointly hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia and the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
The chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Rev. Tim Costello, said after 25 years of campaigning for gambling reform, Australia was now reaching a ‘turning point’ for real reform.
“The NSW Crime Commission’s finding that billions of dollars of dirty money was going through NSW pokies in pubs and clubs was a significant turning point in Australia,” he said.
“The second turning point is the tsunami of gambling advertising that is swamping our screen and which has parents furious that they can’t protect their children from the gambling industry.”
In opening the symposium, the CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, Terry Slevin, said proof of the industry’s power was that no government wanted to sponsor the event.
“We urge governments who receive revenue through gambling, and political parties who receive donations from gambling companies, to set aside their pecuniary interest and act on behalf of the most vulnerable members of the community, who are those who most often pay the biggest price,” Adjunct Professor Slevin said.
The symposium heard from a range of speakers including Federal MPs Peta Murphy, Andrew Wilkie, Rebekha Sharkie and Senator David Pocock.
Earlier Kate Seselja, the manager for Voices for Gambling Reform (lived experience) was among many people with lived experience of gambling harm that spoke at the symposium.
Ms Seselja said it was appalling that those who had been harmed by gambling had been ritually ‘shamed’.
“I lost more than 15 years to gambling and the shaming of people like me keeps this problem quiet,” she said.
“These machines were designed on purpose to cause harm to people … this technology is accessible and I had no idea how harmful it was going to be. It is legislated abuse.”
Paul Fung spoke about how he lost $1 million in 10 days. He eventually stopped gambling in 2014 but after closing all his betting accounts he was continually bombarded by betting outlets.
“Even to this day I get approaches from betting companies, companies I haven’t heard of, offering me new opportunities to bet. They never want to let you go because you are such ‘a good’ customer,” he said.
The Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland (in a speech delivered to the conference by MP Peta Murphy) said the government was aware of the deep community concern about the proliferation of gambling advertising and the Albanese government was committed to tackling this issue.
A communique from the symposium can be accessed here.
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704