DUNKLEY MP Peta Murphy has described Australians as “the biggest losers in the world” when it comes to gambling.
Murphy’s comment was made after the tabling in federal parliament of a report into online gambling and its harmful effects.
“We have a culture where sport and gambling are intrinsically linked. These behaviours are causing increasingly widespread and serious harm to individuals, families, and communities,” Murphy, who chaired the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, said.
The committee’s report makes 31 recommendations to reduce harm to Australians caused by online gambling.
The recommendations include the federal government developing and implementing a national strategy on online gambling harm reduction, supported by national regulation; an online gambling ombudsman; a harm reduction levy on online wagering service providers (WSPs); a public education campaign; more independent research; and improved data collection.
“Gambling advertising and simulated gambling through video games, is grooming children and young people to gamble and encourages riskier behaviour,” Murphy said.
“The torrent of advertising is inescapable. It is manipulating an impressionable and vulnerable audience to gamble online.”
Murphy said the committee recommended implementing a phased, comprehensive ban on online gambling advertising within three years.
The lead-in time would give major sports and broadcasters “time to find alternative advertisers and sponsors, while preventing another generation from experiencing escalating gambling harm”.
“The committee has also recommended stronger consumer protections for licenced online gambling, including a requirement for WSPs to verify their customer’s identity before accepting bets from them, a ban on inducements and a legislated duty of care.
“We have also called for a crackdown on illegal gambling websites.”
Murphy said appropriately targeted support services had been overwhelmed.
“We have recommended a range of measures to improve the availability and adequacy of the support and treatment available to those experiencing gambling harm, and to reduce stigma which is currently preventing many from seeking help.”
She said the committee supported the government’s proposed changes to the classification system to reduce the risk of harm from social casinos and loot box features in interactive games.
“We have recommended the classification scheme be consistently applied across online app stores, that a simulated gambling warning label be developed, that minimum consumer protections be applied to games and better education for young people, parents, caregivers and teachers about simulated gambling.”
If anyone needs support they can call the Gambling Help on 1800 858 858, Lifeline 131 114 or Beyondblue, 1300 224 636.