Tim Costello has warned that gambling advertisers are ‘grooming our children’ before some of the country’s biggest sporting events, including the AFL grand final and the spring racing carnival.
It comes as digital radio station SEN+ has become the first broadcaster to be slapped on the wrist by new laws limiting the country’s love affair with gambling.
The sports broadcaster aired a gambling promotion two minutes before live coverage of Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open quarter-final clash against Elina Svitolina began, an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found.
The new rules, which came into effect in September 2018, ban all gambling advertisements on streaming services during live coverage of sport between 5am and 8.30pm.
The ad aired at 10.58am on Wednesday, January 23 and the breach was the result of an unexpected scheduling delay.
Pointing to the fact that children could have been watching at that time, Mr Costello, who is the chief advocate for Alliance for Gambling Reform, said Australia’s ‘weak’ anti-gambling laws meant companies were making sure they had addicts for the future.
“The laws are already very weak,” he said. “What we know is that their business model depends on people who develop a problem. They’re high acquisition targets. They lose the most and the fastest.
“That means those people go bankrupt and then to jail and you need the next generation.
“It’s grooming. They’re the fodder for the future.”
An expensive flutter
Recent research has shown that 75 per cent of children perceive that betting is a normal part of sport and 77 per cent can correctly identify at least one AFL club sponsor.
Other studies have shown young people can recall the names of sports betting brands, describe logos and match them with promotions.
There is no getting around it – Australia is a country that loves to gamble.
Data collected for the past 34 years by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, which is considered to be the most comprehensive snapshot of gambling in Australia, showed Australians bet $209 billion in 2016-17, an increase of 0.7 per cent over the previous year.
We’re the world’s biggest betters – and also the biggest losers.
Over the same period, Australians lost $23.7 billion across all forms of gambling. That’s $1251 for every man and woman over the age of 18.
Most of this is driven by highly-additive poker machines, but we could easily break the cycle within our sporting codes, Mr Costello said.
“I would call on the federal government to do what Italy has done. They’ve banned all advertising of gambling,” he said.
“A fine is not going to deter them (the agencies). We need to ban the advertising. Certainly at very least, in the times that kids are up.”