Public Health Association of Australia
The highly anticipated report from the Government inquiry into online gambling dropped on 28 June 2023, and now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road on whether the Government listens to the commercially driven gambling, sporting, and media lobby groups, or instead responds to pressing community need.
The report, You Win Some, You Lose More, made 31 recommendations including new gambling advertising regulations phased across four stages of implementation.
“Phase One: prohibition of all online gambling inducements and inducement advertising, and all advertising of online gambling on social media and online platforms. Removal of the exemption for advertising online gambling during news and current affairs broadcasts. Prohibition of advertising online gambling on commercial radio between 8.30-9.00am and 3.30-4.00pm (school drop off and pick up).
“Phase Two: prohibition of all online gambling advertising and commentary on odds, during and an hour either side of a sports broadcast. Prohibition on all in-stadia advertising, including logos on players’ uniforms.
“Phase Three: prohibition of all broadcast online gambling advertising between the hours of 6.00am and 10.00pm.
“Phase Four: by the end of year three, prohibition on all online gambling advertising and sponsorship.”
Action needed now
In a same-day response to the report, PHAA welcomed the report and urged action now to prevent health harms.
In the statement, PHAA CEO Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin said, “We welcome its Public Health approach which includes restrictions, regulations and levies, education campaigns, more independent research into gambling and associated harms, and treatment and support programs across all jurisdictions.
“There’s a weight of evidence over decades that shows a suite of actions works to address many other health harms. It’s essential that the Australian Government acts now, despite the fightback which the gambling industry and its associated partners will mount.”
— Public Health Association Australia (@_PHAA_) June 28, 2023
But what are the odds of the Government implementing the recommendations in full? And what might sporting, gambling and media industries do to lobby against reform?
As Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin CEO, PHAA told ABC Perth Drive on Tuesday, “The challenge here is serious money – and the community has a choice now and the government has a choice. Are they going to let money talk? Or are they going to let community need talk?”
Evidence of the push-back we’ll see from the sporting, gambling and media industries was already apparent in the public hearings for the inquiry.
Mr Andrew Abdo, CEO, National Rugby League told the committee “We’ve had, over the last five years, around 72,000 forms of feedback directly from fans on all aspects of the game. But a relatively small proportion, less than 0.1 per cent, have been in relation to wagering, TV advertising or anything related to sports wagering in our industry.”
Chair of the Committee, Ms Peta Murphy MP later rebuked “If you’re relying on the fact that you haven’t had many letters, that’s not very scientifically rigorous,” she said. “I don’t think we could accept that your fans are not particularly concerned about gambling advertising.”
The inquiry’s report highlighted evidence of public support for strong regulation of gambling advertising. A significant portion of the document discussed public health considerations, including calls from experts including Associate Professor Charles Livingstone for a public health approach to gambling. We’ll continue to advocate for a public health response on gambling, because we know the odds when it comes to gambling in Australia. As outlined in chapter 1 of the report:
- Nearly one in two adult Australians placed a bet last year on sport or racing
- “Almost half of those who gambled in 2022 (46 per cent) were classified as being at some risk of gambling harm in the past 12 months.”
- “Australians spend the most in the world, per capita, on legal forms of gambling, losing $25 billion every year.”
On Victorian free-to-air television in 2021, it’s estimated an average of 948 gambling ads were displayed daily, with an average of 148 of these broadcast in the evening family viewing slot of 6–8.30pm on weeknights.
Image: Alec Douglas/Unsplash