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Pressure for gambling reform now greater than ever in our history - Australians furious at the tsunami of betting ads swamping our screens.

16 Apr 2023

The momentum for gambling reform is now greater than at any other time in Australian history, according to one of the nation’s most prominent and longest advocates for change, Rev Tim Costello.

Rev. Costello, who is the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Advocate, said the March NSW election was a watershed in which gambling reform was for the first time a central policy issue. The Federal Parliamentary inquiry into online gambling is also shedding new light on the depth of Australia’s gambling problem and the greed and ruthlessness of the gambling industry.

And for the first time there are chinks appearing in the amour of the previously all-powerful gambling lobby and evidence their bullying political tactics are failing, Rev Costello said.

“There is a white-hot anger in the community about the tsunami of gambling ads that swamp our screens whenever we watch a sporting event. Parents are furious that they cannot protect their kids from the unscrupulous marketing of the profit-hungry gambling industry,” Rev. Costello said.
“In NSW and increasingly across Australia the ranks of politicians - of all political persuasions – who are prepared to take a public stand for real gambling reform are growing.
“Australia came very close to gambling reform under former Prime Minister Gillard, but she was not acting on conviction, her hand was forced by the Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and ultimately she reneged in the face of a brutal industry campaign.”

Rev. Costello said the gambling lobby tried to attack politicians, such as NSW MP Helen Dalton, during the March NSW election but they failed to influence voters who are sick of the harm gambling is doing in their local communities.

“We are now better placed than at any other time in our national history to put real pressure on governments to reign in the out-of-control gambling industry. People are just too angry to let government off the hook now.”

Rev. Costello was speaking ahead of a major conference being held in Adelaide on May 1 that will focus on Tackling Gambling Harm in Australia.

The conference is being jointly held by the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the Public Health Association of Australia.

Leading speakers at the conference will focus on gambling harm as a public health issue. But the Chief Executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said it was extremely disappointing the conference had received no government sponsorship or support.

“It is almost incomprehensible that a conference that seeks to prevent gambling harm in a public health context cannot be supported by dedicated federal government funding - as there is in most public health areas - because it simply doesn't exist.  Clearly, gambling harm, despite successive reviews and inquiries highlighting its impacts, is yet to be considered a priority of the federal government,” Ms Bennett said.

The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling.

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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