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Head of Federal Parliamentary Inquiry: “Powerful Evidence” of Harm from Online Gambling

March 7, 2023 World iGaming & Gambling

Peta Murphy, a Labor MP, disputes broadcasters’ assertions that increased regulation would result in less free sport coverage.

Since the director of the parliamentary probe found “strong evidence” of detrimental activities, broadcasters, athletic organizations, and betting corporations should prepare for greater limitations on gambling marketing and promotions.

Around 150 submissions from sports betting-related organizations have now been received by the Peta Murphy-led inquiry investigating the harms of online gambling, which has also held numerous hearings. It will guide any regulatory action the federal government takes in response to worries that the $50 billion business is inflicting unjustified harm.

The prevalence of sports betting commercials and the rise in young people’s involvement in sports betting are both causes for concern, according to Murphy, the chair of the standing committee on social policy and legal affairs.

We’ve heard from a number of public health professionals, academics, researchers, and support agencies, and the data suggests that harm from gambling exists for both traditional land-based gambling and internet betting.

The apex organizations for free-to-air TV and radio broadcasters have claimed that the current restrictions on advertising are appropriate and that additional regulation could result in a decrease in free sport coverage due to a fall in revenue from gambling contracts. Similar warnings have been made by the governing organization for the main sports leagues, which claims that financing for amateur sports may decrease.

Murphy refuted those assertions, asking why broadcasters wouldn’t reduce other costs and why sports organizations wouldn’t spend money improving their competitions.

Murphy stated, “I have urged those organizations to become aware with the additional expert information we are receiving and to take into account community opinions and expectations regarding advertising.

The community’s feedback and the opinions of gambling industry professionals do not support the claim that the current system is flawless.

Every weeknight between 6 and 8:30 pm on free-to-air TV, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation stated that an average of 148 gambling advertisements were seen. Free TV Australia disputes that number.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) received complaints that nearly doubled during the previous fiscal year, and the regulator has warned that the community’s expectations are not being met by the limits in place.

Shane Rattenbury, the attorney general of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), said this week that he would support an almost full ban on sports betting advertising, adding to the mounting clamor for regulation.

While the governments of NSW, Queensland, and Tasmania feel the current regulations are too lax, the South Australian government has also requested that a ban be taken into consideration.

Murphy expressed her distress about testimony from a self-exclusion register addict who said that advertising materials, such as “matched bet offers,” were sent to him specifically to tempt him back to gambling.

It has been impossible to listen to the testimony of those who have a gambling addiction or who have suffered harm from gambling and the impact that has had on them and their families without being disturbed, but also inspired by their bravery in speaking out, according to Murphy.

“It’s quite powerful proof when you hear someone describe how that has influenced them as someone who is attempting to stop gambling.”

While Murphy would not predict how the process would play out, she did state that it was clear the committee will strive to enhance the gaming business. The inquiry will provide recommendations to the government in the upcoming months.

Murphy also claimed that the Northern Territory-led self-exclusion program was ineffective, citing recent instances of businesses sending promotions to gamblers who requested a break.

The details of people who have never registered accounts with the betting companies are being obtained, according to Murphy.

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