Majority of Australians support banning gambling advertising on TV, study finds

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Australians predominantly support greater restrictions and bans on gambling advertising, which a new study has found to have influenced young and vulnerable people to start betting, place “impulse” wagers or escalate their gambling behaviour.

The research, by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, found that 38% of the adult population gambled at least weekly. Three in four Australians gambled at least once during the past 12 months and, of those, almost half (46%) were classified as being at some risk of harm from wagering.

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A survey of 1,765 people found that “seeing or hearing wagering advertising was reported to influence betting behaviour in risky ways, especially among young people and those at risk of gambling harm”.

When people were exposed to wagering advertising, 21% were prompted to start betting for the first time, 28% tried a new form of betting, 29% said they “placed bets on impulse” and a third of people increased their betting.

Young people were more likely to bet on impulse or increase their betting after seeing gambling ads.

While the report raised concerns about the links between advertising, increased betting and risky behaviour, it also detailed community concern about the prevalence of gambling opportunities, and strong support for government regulation of wagering advertising.

In a statement to coincide with the release of the report, the federal social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, said the research would “be an important part of informing our responses going forward”.

She said minimising the harm from online gambling and gambling-related advertising was “a priority”.

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The survey results could give the government further impetus to act.

More than three in four people (77%) believed there were too many opportunities to gamble, 68% said gambling was “dangerous for family life” and most (59%) believed wagering should be discouraged.

In relation to advertising, 69% said they thought gambling ads were too common, and 53% said they thought it normalised gambling for children. Most said they thought it made sport less family-friendly, and almost half (46%) said it decreased their enjoyment while watching sport.

Potential bans on broadcast gambling advertising were backed by 53% and opposed by 19%.

Bans on social media advertising (47% support, 23% opposed) and betting companies’ sponsorship of sports coverage (42% support, 26% opposed) were also put to survey participants.

Dr Rebecca Jenkinson, the executive manager of the Australian Gambling Research Centre, said the research “clearly shows” the link between betting advertising and potential harms.

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“We know the harms that gambling causes – at an individual, family and societal level – including impacts on finances, relationships and health and wellbeing,” Jenkinson said.

“This research shows that exposure to wagering advertising is leading to riskier betting behaviour and escalating the likelihood of experiencing gambling harms. The report also captures the concerns of the Australian public that wagering advertising normalises gambling activity.”

The federal communications minister, Michelle Rowland, said the government was “closely considering credit card betting” and the regulation of games containing gambling-like content.

“The House of Representatives standing committee on social policy and legal affairs is … conducting an inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm, including the effectiveness of current gambling advertising restrictions to limit children’s exposure to gambling products,” Rowland said.

“This research will help inform the government of what more needs to be done to address gambling harms.”