Our kids are being exposed to a proliferation of betting advertisements

Thursday, 10 Nov 2022

Betting is a scourge on society and the idea of children growing up watching sport with this association needs to be challenged. 

There is a scene in Howard Beale’s 1976 movie called Network where Peter Finch calls out of his window, “I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!,” (This was a prescient movie about the power of mass media to manipulate and dehumanize a populace). Very prescient. I feel like we need to do the same thing right now as television networks advertise 450 betting services per day! 

What is evident is that these advertisements ($290 million in 2021) are targeted primarily to young men with a common theme of them all being portrayed as imbeciles. There are a few people who have made every attempt to take on this betting scourge (Alan Wilke MP and Tim Costello most notably) but there is not always the political will to take on the might of the gaming industry not to mention the addiction to revenue governments derive.  

The Guardian (2 November) reported that online gambling companies will be forced to tell their customers “chances are you’re about to lose” under a new set of rules in the National Consumer Protection Framework. This is a first salvo being fired. 

Currently, online gambling companies tell users to “gamble responsibly” in their advertisements. From early next year, online wagering companies will be required to run a set of new messages in ads they share via TV, radio, apps, digital or print advertising, social media, and websites, with new taglines including:

* Chances are you’re about to lose.

* Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?

* What’s gambling really costing you?

* What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit.

*Imagine what you could be buying instead.

* You win some. You lose more.

* What are you really gambling with?

It is one topic that makes my blood boil as I see this as an assault on our children’s upbringing. Other countries have banned betting advertising completely. Gamble Aware (NSW Government) says that gambling among young people is common. The NSW Youth Gambling Study conducted in 2020 found that almost 30% of kids aged 12 to 17 had gambled in the past year, and they first gambled when they were 11 or 12. 3% to 4% have a gambling problem or are at risk – that’s one kid in every classroom. Could that kid be you or someone you know? It is known that in NSW, 4 out of 5 people worry that children and young people see too much gambling advertising (2020 Community Awareness and Attitudes survey). The NSW Youth Gambling Study 2020 showed that young people are exposed to gambling advertising on TV during sports and racing events, and many see these ads every week. They also see gambling promoted through:

* social media
* online ads and promotions
* gambling websites and apps
* billboards and other public advertising
* sports-betting sponsorships on uniforms and sportsgrounds.

This advertising works. The study confirmed that young people being exposed to gambling advertising, and thinking more positively about gambling because of advertising, were associated with their “participation, intentions and problems” with gambling.

We can only hope that there is the courage to take this industry head on and ban these advertisements sooner rather than later. It’s incredible to think that Monash University’s gambling unit says we are spending in the order of $1.5 billion on betting per annum. Make sure your kids don’t raid their money boxes any time soon! 

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