Edition #6: Gambling and sport

Serge sardo
Serge sardo
Serge Sardo, photo: Paul Jeffers

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Has our sporting nation become a gambling nation?

Australia is proud of its image as a sporting nation.

From participation in community sporting matches to the fervent support of spectators for their favourite sporting teams – the idea of the Australian sports lover is ingrained into the national psyche.

Australian sportspeople who excel on the international stage are feted as national heroes. Successful sportspeople figure prominently in our Australian of the Year awards.

But sport is not the only area where Australia rates highly in the world rankings.

Australia is also a world champion in gambling losses.

Although most Australians do not gamble very often, we are consistently among the top ranking countries for the amount of money lost on gambling.

In 2014–15 Australian gamblers lost $22.7 billion, an increase of 7.6 per cent.

Australia is also a world champion in gambling losses.

Some people will say Australians have always been a nation of gamblers and that this is an integral part of the Australian culture, as evidenced by our Diggers playing two-up.

But the real reason, as evidenced by research, is that gambling accessibility increases gambling consumption, and new technology is making it possible to bet anywhere, anytime.

Sport and technology the new players in the gambling game

Poker machines continue to be a major source of gambling losses across Australia, accounting for more than half of all losses.

But there are also new players on the block.

Sports betting, propelled by saturation advertising and the widespread use of smart phones, is now the fastest growing category of gambling.

Between 2013–14 and 2014–15, losses grew by 30 per cent to $815 million.

And it has many people worried.

A session on ‘Young men and sports betting: normalisation, risk environments and consumption behaviours’ at the foundation’s Many ways to help conference in Melbourne last week generated strong interest.

Associate Professor Samantha Thomas from Deakin University speaking at the Many ways to help conference 2016Associate Professor Samantha Thomas, photo: Paul Jeffers

As part of the conference stream on ‘new horizons’ of the gambling environment, the session explored how a convergence of advertising and technology has normalised the way young people see sport. Associate Professor Samantha Thomas from Deakin University, Doctor Michael Carr-Gregg from the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and AndrĂ©e Froude from the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand led the session.

It was particularly sobering to hear of Associate Professor Thomas’s research, which shows gambling has become embedded and normalised within sporting rituals. And that many young people approaching legal gambling age have never watched sport without being bombarded by gambling ads.

Sports betting is now the fastest growing category of gambling.

You can understand why many parents are concerned about the increasing link between gambling and sport and want stronger regulation of sports betting advertising, particularly during children's viewing hours.

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Gambling advertising and sport a hot topic

Concern about the exposure of young people to gambling was also a strong theme at the launch of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.

The Hon. Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gambling and Liquor Regulation, launched new curriculum resources, including a maths unit on sports betting, to teach senior secondary students about gambling risk.

She also reiterated the Victorian Government’s commitment to protecting children from gambling advertising through restrictions on static signage near schools and on public transport.

Many young people approaching legal gambling age have never watched sport without being bombarded by gambling ads.

The launch also saw a panel discussion on the meaning of responsible gambling, which ended with a spirited exchange about young people’s exposure to sports betting advertising.

It would be a sad day indeed if our kids’ experience of sport becomes fundamentally entrenched in gambling. Australia needs a cohesive national approach to tackle this complex issue.

Respected journalist Jenny Brockie facilitated a panel discussion to open Responsible Gambling Awareness Week. Participants included former AFL player Brent Guerra, Chief Financial Officer at Ladbrokes Australia Lachlan Murray and Professor Nerilee Hing from Central Queensland University and Australian Gambling Council Chief Executive Nadine Grinblat(L to R) Jenny Brockie, Brent Guerra, Lachlan Murray and Professor Nerilee Hing and Nadine Grinblat, photo: Paul Jeffers

This sporting edition

In this edition of Inside gambling you can find out more about what happened during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, including vox pops on what the community thinks about gambling.

You can also read more on the new curriculum resources launched by the minister in LOVE THE GAME: our school and sporting club programs get a makeover.

Associate Professor Samantha Thomas elaborates on her research and why doing nothing about sports betting marketing is taking a gamble with our kids, including videos from parents telling us what they think of betting advertising.

We also explain our new campaign aimed at helping kids get back to loving the game and encouraging parents to talk to their teens about gambling.

And while it may seem there is nothing you can’t already bet on, Lindsay Shaw describes the brave new world of Lottoland, which uses online sports betting to offer ‘lottery on steroids’.

By the way, don’t forget to tell us what you think in our survey, so we can keep improving Inside gambling.

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