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It’s time to take a punt on banning gambling advertising

2 June 2023 No Comment

By Ross Fitzgerald

Although I disagree with the federal Coalition about some key policies, I do support Peter Dutton’s proposed gambling advertising bans.

In particular, I applaud the proposal of stopping all gambling advertising during sporting events in Australia, including half and quarter time breaks, and also from an hour before the start of live sporting events to an hour after such widely watched events.

Hence, I urge prime minister Anthony Albanese and the federal ALP government to work cooperatively with the Coalition and some members of cross-bench, and implement these much-needed policies.

Most Australian families actually want to focus on the game being played, and not on betting odds that constantly appear on TV.

Such a ban should not just apply to broadcasts on television. Advertising bans should also apply to live streaming on the Internet. This is because Internet use can indeed adversely influence our children.

Currently, advertising and other content on our television screens is by far the most influential.

The bombardment of betting ads is taking the joy out of televised sports.

Worse, such ads are changing the culture of our country in a harmful way and normalising gambling for the young. As it stands, the federal Coalition ban policy would apply to all sporting events, excluding horse racing and other racing codes such as greyhounds and harness racing..

While I am unconvinced of the reason for such exclusions, I do endorse the proposal that advertising bans should include TV ads, logos that appear on the screen during an event as part of a sponsorship, and also to any live crosses to representatives of gambling companies. At least at this stage, it does seem reasonable that bans shouldn’t include sponsorships that are not part of the broadcast.

For instance, it shouldn’t prevent the sponsorship of team jerseys, or advertising at the ground itself. In any case, these are regulated under state, not federal, law.

Advertising is currently allowed until five minutes before sporting events and is allowed five minutes after their conclusion. While advertising is not permitted during the playing of such events, they are allowed if half-time or other breaks occur after 8.30pm.

The truth is that current gaming rules mean that a huge amount of enticing gambling advertising is allowed to be broadcast before games, during breaks, and after the game ends. Such advertising should no longer be permitted.

As leading gambling reform advocate Tim Costello says, “Sports wagering is the fastest growing form of gambling in Australia with losses now amounting to more than $7 billion annually. It’s a ruthless, poorly regulated industry that targets young people.”

Costello argues that only a total ban on advertising will work. Indeed he has said: “We know historically that when tighter restrictions were introduced during live sport in Australia in 2018 it actually led to a 50% increase in the total volume of gambling ads on TV and radio.”

Australia has been a world leader in completely banning advertising for other harmful, previously legal, products such as tobacco.

A similar prohibition on sports betting advertising should be our ultimate goal. Just as it was utterly unacceptable for children to know the brands Peter Stuyyesant and Marlboro cigarettes, why should many, if not most children now be aware of betting agencies?

Politicians on all sides of politics should come together to protect our community, and especially the young, from the constant bombardment of betting advertising that has hijacked sport in Australia.

As Dutton argues: “This issue is top of mind for so many families. It’s an experience that’s reinforced every time Australians turn on the TV to watch a game of footy.”

I very much hope that the Coalition’s proposed policy solutions will encourage Anthony Albanese and Communication Minister Michelle Rowland to act swiftly.

Emeritus Professor of History and Politics at Griffith University, Ross Fitzgerald AM is the author or co-author of 44 books. His most recent publications include a memoir, Fifty Years Sober: An Alcoholic’s Journey and the co-authored Grafton Everest political satire, The Lowest Depths, in which Russia’s dictatorial president Vladimir Putrid is assassinated.

The Daily Telegraph, Friday 2 June, 2023, p 13.

Ban’s a sure bet

Professor Ross Fitzgerald’s opinion article on Friday headlined “It’s time to take a punt on banning gambling advertising” (Opinion 2/6) contains a great deal of material that indicates it is indeed, time to do so.
The damage inflicted on society by the dragon of gambling, in all its forms, is immense and creates endless and widespread misery.
The fact that we compound this situation by allowing, even encouraging professional persuaders to advertise the non-existent benefits of gambling is rather incomprehensible.

Professor Fitzgerald’s arguments about limiting gambling advertising are persuasive and will hopefully be recognised by our political leaders.

Richard Whitaker, Terrigal

Professor Ross Fitzgerald’s article on the dangers of internet gambling advertising should be required reading. And good on Peter Dutton for taking his stance on the subject. There are many things that with which Mr Dutton and I don’t agree. This is not one of them.

Michael O’ Brien, Newtown

The Daily Telegraph, Monday June 5, 2023, Letters p 18

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