The push for a gaming ad ban in Australia has intensified, with Tim Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, raising concerns about clandestine talks behind closed doors potentially compromising the landmark parliamentary inquiry’s recommendations.
Costello emphasized the importance of implementing a ban on gambling advertising as Australia continues to grapple with a surge in problem gambling. He warned that undisclosed discussions with stakeholders, including gambling entities, broadcasters, sporting codes, and global tech companies, suggested potential pressure against the proposed ban.
The involvement of prominent gambling companies such as Sportsbet, Crown, Betfair, and Tabcorp in these private meetings has raised skepticism about the decision-making process’s transparency and integrity. Costello stressed the need for transparency in such discussions and questioned the validity of claims presented by these stakeholders.
The recent passing of Minister Peta Murphy, the inquiry’s chair, further complicated the situation, as her comprehensive report featuring 31 recommendations to mitigate the impact of online gambling and advertising on society could be jeopardized by potential compromises with the gambling industry.
Highlighting the magnitude of gambling-related harm in Australia with an annual loss exceeding $25 billion, Costello urged the government to honor the recommendations set forth by the parliamentary inquiry and resist undue lobbying pressures from the gambling industry.
Costello also pointed to public sentiment, with over 70% support for a gambling advertising ban, and urged Australian lawmakers to prioritize the public’s interests over industry recommendations. He emphasized the need for transparency and called for new measures to reduce gambling-related harm, including advertisement restrictions similar to those for tobacco and alcohol.
As the government prepares to unveil its response to the Murphy inquiry, Costello implored for strong measures to address problem gambling and urged the government to set the tone for its future gambling-related policy while dispelling any doubts about its integrity.