Date: 11.07.2024

by Adam Dworak

Calls for Ban on Gambling Inducements to Protect Australians

The Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) has called on the Australian government to ban strategic inducements such as “bonus bets” and cashback offers, which they argue lure Australians into problem gambling. According to the AGR, these practices exploit weak advertising and consumer protection laws, making bets appear safer and increasing the likelihood of perceived wins.


The Dangers of “Risk-Free” Bets

In a recently released policy paper, the AGR criticized “risk-free” bets that offer refunds under certain conditions, labeling them as highly enticing inducements.

These promotions are often targeted at individuals with gambling problems through personalized marketing, encouraging further betting and often accompanied by complex terms and conditions that are hard for consumers to understand.

Regulatory Gaps and Marketing Concerns

Martin Thomas, the interim chief executive of the AGR, highlighted that such inducements could drive some of the riskiest gambling behaviors yet are largely overlooked by current regulations.

The paper also raised concerns about direct marketing tactics, such as emails, texts, and phone calls, which promote these inducements.

Government’s Inaction on Recommendations

A June 2023 report from the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Gambling, led by the late Labor MP Peta Murphy, recommended an immediate ban on all online gambling inducements and their advertising. However, over a year later, the government has yet to respond.

Despite implementing measures like the BetStop self-exclusion register and banning credit cards for wagering, there is mounting pressure for the government to take bolder actions on advertising.

Political and Regulatory Responses

Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman criticized the government’s delay in addressing the issue. Meanwhile, Labor MP Susan Templeman has requested an update on the government’s response to the recommendations.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland acknowledged the complexity of the issue and emphasized the government’s commitment to harm reduction and cultural change, aiming to ensure any reforms are effective and implementable.

Escalating Gambling Issues in Australia

The AGR’s data indicates that the number of Australians betting on sports has doubled in the past five years, with a third of all bets placed by individuals with gambling problems.

The policy paper underscores the significant harm caused by online gambling inducements and urges the government to adopt all 31 recommendations of the Murphy Report, including the ban on inducements and their advertising.

Protecting Australians from Gambling Harm

Martin Thomas, the interim chief executive of the AGR, emphasized the need for government action to protect Australians from gambling harm and the predatory nature of the gambling industry. “We cannot trust the gambling industry to police itself and we must start to protect people, especially our children, who are being targeted by gambling companies,” he stated.

The AGR continues to advocate for comprehensive reforms to mitigate gambling harm and safeguard vulnerable populations from aggressive gambling promotions.