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Should gambling advertisements in sport be banned?

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Imagine a young boy, about 12 years old, sitting at home one afternoon, watching his beloved sports team run onto the ground, as the team run through the banner, we are taken to a live sports betting update and during this ad, the young boy finds out his favourite player is $2.80 for the Brownlow Medal and his team are $4.40 to win the premiership. Although he doesn’t quite understand what all this means to him, he keeps an eye out for the advertisements during the game, he see’s betting logo’s around the perimeter of the ground and eventually finds out his club, wears an advertising logo on their jumper. After watching the game, he begins to understand how “betting” works and begins to regularly check whether his idol is still the favorite to win the Brownlow or his team to win the flag. This is just one young boy, who is now aware of and attracted to gambling. Imagine every young boy sitting down to watch the footy over the weekend and imagine our future as thousands of young boys are watching the same ads, week in week out. So, ask yourself a simple question, why are these ads still constantly being played on televisions across Australia.

Approximately one in every six ads on a sporting event is related to betting. Across one whole game of AFL Football, a young boy is estimated to witness 50 betting ads. The government has introduced a plan to change the laws on betting advertising, banning any in match advertising for any sporting event that runs between the times of 5 a.m. to 8.30pm. However, the government is yet to announce when the campaign will begin, the campaign only accounts for advertising on television and radio but advertising will still be able to see at the sporting event in forms of on-ground advertising, scoreboard and perimeter advertising. The government is reluctant to wipe the advertisements off our screens as they earn large sums of tax revenue off betting companies.

I want to outline the main reasons why gambling advertisement in Sport must be banned, with the constant sight of these ads, young kids are no longer fascinated with their favorite player playing well, but instead are talking about the odds of their team winning with their friends. This then ultimately translates into underage betting. A report on the ABC’s four corners revealed that when children are exposed to gambling at a young age they develop positive attitudes toward gambling at the time. “The study, led by Samantha Thomas, an associate professor of public health at Deakin University, found that three-quarters of children can recall the name of at least one sports betting brand, and one in four children can name four or more brands. The study also found that 75 percent of children believe that betting has become a normal part of the sport. These findings should concern us all.”

This brings me to my second point; gambling nowadays is so accepted, that it has become a part of the “sporting culture”. Gambling in sport is now seen as a normal and routine characteristic for most men. People now anxiously await the pre-game odds and best bets instead of the team injuries or the conditions of the match. Interview research and large-scale survey work have both suggested that gambling ads during sport strongly affect many problem gamblers by increasing their desire to gamble when trying to cut down. Therefore, restrictions on advertising may be effective in helping those with problems to manage their urges to gamble.

Banning gambling ads during sporting events would be a financial blow to the TV networks, which received approximately $120 million from gambling advertising last year. Total gambling advertising across all media ballooned from $91 million in 2011 to $236 million in 2015. Australians lose around $23 billion a year on gambling. Sports betting is a fast-growing component of that, by some estimates nearly 30 percent a year. Gambling taxation represents a significant share of State Governments’ own-tax revenue. State revenue from gambling has risen rapidly over the last two decades. Despite the government’s recent announcement to ban ads before 8.30pm – as I mentioned before – the government itself still wants to earn revenue from these advertisements.

Having asserted the necessity of this policy, the government must enforce this law quickly. The enforcement of the ban is a starting point and a step in the right direction. I am not suggesting sports betting advertising should be completely banned but up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers”. The social cost is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year. But I do believe the loophole should be tightened and more done so children aren’t exposed to sports betting to the extent they are now. What we are currently doing is gambling on our children’s future. And like all gamblers, we’ll most likely lose…

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