Our love of sports is now a gateway to gaming

Australians are known to love their sports. Sport is an integral part of our cultural fabric, whether it’s the Boxing Day Test, the Australian Open, football, soccer or just playing almost anything against England or New -Zeeland.

But our love affair with the sport is currently under attack.

The sport is closely linked to Australian culture. Photo: Getty Images

We’re no strangers to having a punt – Australians lost an estimated A$25 billion in all forms of gambling between 2018 and 2019. In fact, on a per capita basis, our losses are among the highest on record in the world, and sports betting is experiencing the fastest growth. form of gambling in Australia.

While for some people taking a small loss on a sports bet can be part of the fun, for others it can lead to problem gambling with devastating consequences for them and their loved ones.

This uncomfortable relationship between sport and gambling in Australia was brought to light once again after betting agency Sportsbet Pty Ltd was fined a record AU$2.5 million for breaching Australian gambling laws. spam at the beginning of the month.

These laws are designed to prevent people from being bombarded with unwanted marketing text messages and emails. Sportsbet has also pledged to reimburse customers A$1.2 million as a result of their marketing tactics.

Historically, for most sports, there has not been a close relationship with gambling.

However, the gaming industry in Australia is now so intertwined with our sport that it is now almost impossible to enjoy a sporting event without being exposed to the game.

Gambling advertising has become synonymous with sports.

We have the impression that one out of two advertisements broadcast during a sports program or on the radio is associated with betting. You can’t escape it in the world of social media either with betting companies having a huge online presence in spaces like Facebook and Instagram.

Young people are exposed to the game through their enthusiasm for the sport. Photo: Getty Images

From catchy campaign slogans to the use of Hollywood actors, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who couldn’t remember the name of at least one of the major betting companies associated with these ads. You can’t even take part in conversations about sporting events without hearing about the odds, or watch a game without a visual barrage of game promotion.

Betting companies are also key sponsors for many of our major sporting codes in this country including the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL) and National Basketball League (NBL) .

Sport has been widely used by successive Australian governments as a key policy pillar in promoting healthy community outcomes, such as strengthening social ties, supporting local economies and improving health outcomes.

Our national investment in sport to promote positive outcomes continued to be reflected in Sport 2030 – National Sports Plan.

However, the difficult juxtaposition of using sport as part of our national identity to promote health while allowing sports betting companies to entrench themselves in our sporting culture and therefore in our lives, is deeply concerning.

Beyond the financial impacts, the personal costs of gambling are well established. Harms associated with gambling include, but are not limited to, relationship problems, family violence, physical and mental health problems, and criminal activity, as well as interference with a person’s ability to work or live. ‘to study.

The harms of gambling are not only suffered by those who place the bets, but also by the people around them.

Tobacco advertising at Australian sporting events was phased out altogether in 2006. Photo: Graham Chadwick/Allsport/Getty Images

Australians have already shown a willingness to be fearless in the pursuit of protecting the integrity of sport as a tool to build a healthy nation.

Australia’s Tobacco Advertising Ban Act 1992 would ultimately make it illegal for tobacco companies to advertise their products or sponsor sport, and Australia was a leading country at the time in the decision to ban tobacco sponsorship in sport. Tobacco advertising at sporting events was completely phased out in 2006.

There is a lack of international policy to fall back on when it comes to regulating the gambling industry’s encroachment on sport, giving Australia the opportunity to be a political leader again. .

Similar to our stance on tobacco and other hazardous uses, we may seek to strengthen regulations that limit how and when sports gaming products can be advertised online and in other traditional media formats.

Links between gambling clubs and sports clubs could also be discouraged or regulated. For example, the initiative of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, I like the game not the oddsaims to reduce the exposure of young people to sports betting and works actively with sports clubs.

Education is another area of ​​potential policy response.

This could involve the introduction of dedicated programs in schools on the harms of gambling. In addition to this, national gambling health campaigns that explicitly target links to sport could be on the agenda.

We cannot sit idly by and allow the game to be normalized through sport.

Australian children are growing up on a sports diet, and by not limiting the influence of gambling on sport, we are exposing a future generation of young people to the harms of gambling.

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