License: Pexels, Free to use, Author: Rijan Hamidovic
Australia is contemplating a complete ban on gambling advertisements within three years, following the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling. The House of Representatives committee on social policy and legal affairs conducted an inquiry into online gambling and its impact on problem gamblers, resulting in a report with 31 recommendations for reforming the country's gambling sector.
One of the key recommendations is a blanket ban on all gambling advertising across broadcast media and online platforms, aiming to leave no room for circumvention. The report strongly criticized the extensive presence of online gambling advertising and its normalization through its association with sports. The committee accused gambling advertising of grooming children and young people, manipulating them into viewing gambling as a harmless and sociable activity.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed that the government will carefully consider the recommendations put forth by the committee. However, trade body Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), representing major gambling operators in the country, criticized the potential blanket ban as a "step too far." RWA called for a balanced approach and highlighted that strict bans often prove ineffective, leading individuals to seek out illegal offshore gambling options.
In addition to the advertising ban, the committee's report recommended several other measures to transform the online gambling landscape in Australia. These include federal-level regulation and licensing, the establishment of an online gambling ombudsman, stronger consumer protection requirements, and a crackdown on unlicensed operators. The report also suggested a single government minister responsible for developing a national strategy on online gambling harm reduction.
The committee's recommendations come amidst public support for gambling ad bans, with a survey by the Australia Institute finding that 71% of Australians supported a ban on gambling ads on television. The potential ban on gambling advertising aligns with ongoing efforts to address problem gambling and create a more comprehensive and responsible gambling regulatory framework in Australia.