Political leaders must support blanket ban on gambling advertising - ‘Watershed’ committee recommendations must get bipartisan backing
28 June 2023
The Federal Government and the Opposition must commit to give bipartisan support to the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling that has called for a blanket ban to sports gambling implemented over three years.
The Chief Advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Rev. Tim Costello, said he also welcomed the call for a national strategy to combat gambling harm and the introduction of an online gambling regulator and ombudsman.
The parliamentary committee into online gambling has today released its findings making 31 recommendations on how the industry should be regulated and how to combat gambling harm.
Rev. Costello said Australia was in the grip of a gambling epidemic and the tsunami of sports advertisements was normalising gambling and allowing the industry to groom young people to gamble.
“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 $25 billion in losses out of our communities,” Rev. Costello said.
“The harm is profound, individuals, families and communities are devastated. And the harm is not just financial, this is a major public health issue that is a cause devastating harm to people’s health and in many cases it leads to people taking their own lives.”
Rev. Costello said the recommendation for the introduction of a national gambling regulator and a gambling ombudsman was ‘absolutely justified’ given the ad hoc, uncoordinated and weak State regulatory regime on gambling that has failed Australia.
“This committee, led by Labour MP Peta Murphy, had done an incredible job to lift the lid on the ugly underbelly of gambling in Australia and delivered a comprehensive raft of recommendations that now must be adopted,” he said.
“This is an issue that is too important to become a political football, we urge both major parties to give this bipartisan support to these recommendations today.”
Rev. Costello said Australia must put a public health lens to its efforts to combat gambling harm, just as it had done in tackling tobacco.
“The committee has rightly recognised that this is a public health issue and greater government leadership and resourcing must be devoted to introducing stricter regulations as well as funding prevention and public education campaigns and services to help people who are suffering gambling harm,” Rev. Costello said.
“The proposed gambling ban is no different to that imposed on tobacco, the major sporting codes cried foul then but they survived. The found other sponsors then.”
“It is only more recently that our sporting codes have become addicted to gambling advertising and sponsorship, we must break this addiction for the good of their games and for the greater good of society. We have done it before and we can do it again.”
Previously released analysis of online-gambling laws across the world undertaken by the Alliance for Gambling Reform has revealed Australia has one of the weakest regulatory regimes on the planet.
That research underscored why online gambling is the fastest growing form of gambling in Australia with more than $7 billion in losses suffered each year. Research shows people who gamble online are more likely to experience harm (34%) than those who gamble on poker machines (15.6%)
Tim Costello is available for interview
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704