Calls to ban sports betting ads in Australia reignited

By Peter Lynch

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has relaunched a campaign to end sports betting advertising in Australia, amid a significant rise in revenue for foreign-owned bookmakers throughout the pandemic.

The Reverend Tim Costello, chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, says the federal government has done little to protect Australians, adding that sports wagering was the fastest-growing form of gambling in the country. It has reportedly doubled in the five years to 2017/18, with annual losses now exceeding AU$1bn (US$765.5m).

Foreign bookmakers such as Entain and Flutter Entertainment benefit from the low-tax regulatory regime in the Northern Territory, which has a wagering tax capped at $575,000 annually.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has now called for Australia to follow the lead of other countries by ending gambling advertising.

“We must nip this in the bud right now, and the quickest and easiest way to do so is to end gambling advertising,” said Costello. “Other countries have done so, including Italy, because they recognise the harm gambling does, and that it is completely inappropriate to promote it.

“It’s time Australia did the right thing too.”

Costello has, however, received criticism from Brent Jackson, chief executive of corporate bookmaker lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia, who claims the issue is non-existent.

“While sports betting is growing in popularity, problem gambling rates continue to fall, and wagering advertising complaints are at all-time lows, comprising only 0.31 per cent of all advertising complaints,” said Jackson.

“The evidence shows clearly that Australia’s wagering companies are doing the right thing. Reverend Costello is pointing to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

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