Australia’s Weak Attempt at Mitigating Gambling Harm from Ads

Written By Janice Doughtrey

The Australian government has announced plans for gambling companies to include warnings about the risks of gambling in all their advertising from April 2023 on. Brand new taglines have been added, such as “Chances are you’re about to lose.” Advertising also needs to include advice on how to seek support if needed.

These requirements seem to be in response to a report from 7 years ago and do not take into account the changing media landscape. They were written before social media became so prevalent, and they don’t address how serious this space has become. These recommendations are short of what’s needed for anything more than a little regulation of digital media.

There have been several studies that show gambling is getting more popular among young people. This means other forms of gambling, like going to a casino or playing in a casino, might be declining. A study following found that middle-aged men were most likely to bet on sports and 18-year-old men were the group who most often got involved in this behavior.

The average participant in the study, who all reported gambling in some form in the previous year, had six different betting accounts with four betting platforms. Seventy percent of participants who bet on sport were identified as at risk of, or experiencing, gambling harm.

As more marketing and promotions attract young men, the major betting agencies are also collaborating with each other to encourage peer pressure. One example of this is Sportbet’s ‘Bet with Mates’. It offers shared accounts for friends to bet together which drives peers to be soft peddlers for gambling companies.

A recent report revealed that Dabble has been found to have broken laws related to the promotion and inducement of people to join gambling services. However, they faced no sanctions or financial penalties for their actions and were instead given a warning. The difficulties in regulating online sports betting, as seen across states in recent months, is likely to be just as big of a problem in this area of business.

When games and ads encourage you to take a risk, one warning message just isn’t enough. The thrill of winning makes this all seem worth it. But we must work together to raise awareness of the cultural harm these practices cause and create policies that restrict our use of public digital spaces.