Public health expert backs ban: '75% of kids think gambling is normal in sport'

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 9 February 2017

Labor's failed attempt at banning gambling advertising during sports events fell foul of the TV and radio broadcasters but has won the support of an expert in the effects of gambling marketing on children.

Yesterday, parliament voted down an opposition proposal to tighten the Interactive Gambling Bill so that broadcasters cannot show gambling ads during lives sports.

At present, betting companies are allowed to show up to 10% of ads on TV and radio as well as in-ground placements in stadiums on players jerseys and activations visible on TV.

Samantha Thomas, an associate professor at Deakin University, is a global authority on the effects of gambling advertising on children.

“I think its fantastic to see the issue remains on the agenda and now we've got one of the two major political parties pushing for reform, we haven't seen that previously,” Thomas says.

“We have to be looking at comprehensive measures to address the amount of gambling products there are during sports matches.

“Research evidence shows us it is having a significant impact on shaping kids attitudes to gambling. So 75% of kids now think gambling is a normal or common part of sport and they tell us they think that because of the marketing they see for these products.”

Thomas wants a loophole closed that allows gambling commercials to run during children's viewing hours in sports matches, sports TV shows and news.

She said the restrictions should not solely target broadcast TV and radio, she also wants restrictions on in-ground placements, such as hoardings around the stadium, player jerseys and on basketball courts.

“A comprehensive set of regulations will not just seek to minimise or reduce ads, but will aim to address the whole suite of promotions,” she says.

This includes digital advertising, the fastest growing medium for gambling ads, which Thomas argues needs to come into line with broadcast.

She says the problem is not just the quantity of advertising, but also some of the content.

“Certain promotions are particularly appealing to kids such as things like incentives and inducements. Ads for bonus bets or cash back offers creates a perception that there is a reduced risk with betting,” Thomas says.

In voting down Labor's proposal, human rights minister Alan Tudge pointed out that a ban would mean live odds couldn't run during a Melbourne Cup broadcast.

Thomas says there may be “some exemptions” that would need to be considered but “the broader principle remains we have to reduce the quantity of this marketing that has infiltrated our sports matches”.

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