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New gambling slogans unlikely to curb social losses

  • 08 November 2022
  In the midst of the spring racing carnival online betting companies have been told their advertising will next year need to include warnings about the risk of gambling. From April 2023 the ubiquitous ‘gamble responsibly’ will be replaced with seven rotating taglines, including ‘Chances are you’re about to lose’, and ‘You win some. You lose more.’ Advertisements will also need to include advice on how to seek support.  

The changes pick up on the recommendations of a seven-year-old report that suggested consistency across jurisdictions and platforms, given that previous laws and guidelines did not cover digital or social media in the same way as traditional media. The new requirements seem to play catch up with an uncontainable juggernaut, one that significantly targets and effects young men. They fall well short of regulation that might meaningfully curb what is become a social norm and cultural marker for many.

A number of recent studies suggest gambling is normalised among young people. As other physically based forms of gambling decline, online sports betting seems on the rise. A study in the midst of the Covid pandemic found that sports betting was normalised amongst young men aged 18 to 35 years-old, with men aged 18 to 24-years old the adult demographic most likely to have a bet in Australia.

On average participants in the study, who all reported gambling in some form in the previous year, bet on six different platforms in a twelve-month period, each having on average four different accounts with online wagering platforms. 70 per cent of those who bet on sport in this cohort were identified as at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling harm.

Australia's gambling losses per adult are the highest in the world. In too many cases the behaviours begin earlier. A quarter of 18 to 35-year-old male gamblers in the study noted above acknowledged they started punting when they were under 18. A recent study in New South Wales found that 29.8 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds had gambled with money in the past year. A quarter of these had bet online.

The world of online gaming, in which so many adolescents are engaged, includes elements that promote the kinds of behaviour that simulate gambling. Some 40.1 per cent of that adolescent demographic in the NSW report had played games with gambling components in the previous year. This helps to lessen the stride from apparently harmless teen behaviour to