Australian’s love their sport, but in recent years, the connection between sport and sports betting has grown at an accelerating rate with figures showing that in the first two months of this year, the gambling industry spent $23.7 million on advertising.
This expenditure coupled with a disturbing trend of betting agencies adopting similar marketing techniques to the powerful tobacco lobby to “normalise gambling” threatens to harm children, adolescents, young men and problem gamblers.
The Greens have a bill to ban the promotion of sports betting in the same way tobacco advertising was banned in 1992. Nobody is saying people shouldn’t have the freedom to have a punt, but watching a game of footy shouldn’t be like walking into a casino.
The sport-gambling connection
Despite an industry code banning gambling ads during AFL game time, data shows that in Round 1 of the 2016 season, it was the second biggest advertising category over the four AFL games shown on free-to-air in Melbourne and of the nearly 200 ads screened, 34 were for gambling.
The Greens’ Bill to ban sports betting ads will make it possible to override the limitations of existing industry codes of conduct so that people will be able to sit down with their kids to watch a game of footy without being bombarded by constant messages to bet. It will also end team sponsorship by sports betting companies and significantly reduce kids’ exposure to gambling messages.
The dangers of normalising gambling
We know that advertising plays a central role in shaping an individual’s belief about a particular product and that is has been an important advertising strategy in the promotion of unhealthy products such as alcohol and tobacco.
It demonstrated that sports betting companies may be operating from the same playbook as the tobacco lobby which raises concerns that the association between sports and betting is "grooming" children by normalising gambling as an intrinsic part of Australian culture.
In 1992 we put an end to tobacco advertising, and now it’s time to do the same with sports betting ads.
Restoring integrity in sport
The Greens put this issue on the agenda in the last term of parliament. It's time to take the gambling out of sport or we risk tarnishing our iconic Australian sporting codes and normalising gambling for our kids.