New research reveals extent of gambling harm to Australian families

Research released today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has revealed the extent of harm gambling is causing to Australians.

Most survey participants believed that there were too many opportunities to gamble in Australia, with three in four Australian adults spending money gambling in the past 12 months, and around half of those who gambled being classified as at risk of experiencing gambling harm.

The research conducted by Australian Gambling Research Centre also shed light on community views and responses to gambling advertising, and revealed the extent to which gamblers are at particular risk.

It highlights the importance of the Albanese Labor Government’s commitment to implementing all measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering.

From this week (30 March), two new measures will be in place that will help create a safer environment for Australians when it comes to gambling harm. 

The Consistent Gambling Messaging measure will ensure the use of nationally consistent, evidence-based messaging that effectively communicates the risks and potential harm from online wagering.

The Staff Training measure will provide nationally consistent training focusing on the responsible service of online wagering, and will be a requirement for all staff involved in providing online wagering services, or the capacity to influence the service.

The Government will also implement the first National Self-Exclusion Register (BetStop) in coming months. This measure will reduce the impact that gambling harm has on individuals, families, and communities.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said minimising harm associated with online gambling and gambling advertising 
was a priority for the Government.

“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to creating a better Australia and minimising the harm caused by problem online wagering is an important part of achieving that goal,” Minister Rishworth said.

“This research will be an important part of informing our responses going forward.”

The AGRC estimates two in three adults believed wagering advertising is ‘too common’, and 53 per cent thought it ‘normalises gambling among children. Exposure to wagering advertising had the greatest impact on young people aged 18–34 years and people at-risk of gambling harm, with 1 in 5 young women and 1 in 7 young men starting betting for the first time after seeing or hearing an advertisement on television.

Minister Rowland said the Government is taking further action to reduce the impact of gambling harm, including for online gamblers.

“We are closely considering credit card betting as well as the regulation of games which contain gambling-like content, such as loot boxes and simulated gambling,” Minister Rowland said. 

“The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is currently conducting an inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm, including the effectiveness of current gambling advertising restrictions to limit children’s exposure to gambling products.

“We eagerly await the Committee’s report. This research will help inform the Government of what more needs to be done to address gambling harms.”

Dr Rebecca Jenkinson, Executive Manager of the Australian Gambling Research Centre said the research clearly shows the potential harm that exposure to betting advertising can cause.

“We know the harms that gambling causes - at an individual, family, and societal level – including impacts on finances, relationships, and health and wellbeing,” Dr Jenkinson said.

“This research shows that exposure to wagering advertising is leading to riskier betting behaviour and escalating the likelihood of experiencing gambling harms. The report also captures the concerns of the Australian public that wagering advertising normalises gambling activity. 

“Most believe sport and race betting is ‘too common’ (69 per cent) and ‘makes sport less family friendly’ (60 per cent).” 

Among individuals who were at risk of gambling harm, 41 per cent reported trying a new form of betting, and 40 per cent bet on impulse, as a result of seeing or hearing betting advertisements.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is currently conducting an inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm, which will also help inform the Government’s future response. 

More information on the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering can be found on the Department of Social Services’ website.