Long-time campaigner for poker machine reform, the Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant, has welcomed the Federal parliamentary report that recommends a ban on online gambling advertising within three years.
This was the strong headline recommendation of the report You Win Some, You Lose More from the House of Representatives social policy and legal affairs committee.
“It’s excellent to see a parliamentary committee urge removal of sports betting ads that will eventually see a total ban on TV and social media feeds,” Dean Grant says. “We have no idea about Jesus’ attitude to sport. But we know St Paul was a fan, from his many sporting illustrations: running, wrestling and training in general.
“But Christians are even clearer that if you see someone in need but have no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Australians lose more than any other nationality on online gambling. Too many go on to experience dreadful harm from online gambling, which is often highly addictive.”
The committee recommends a phased approach to banning the ads. Committee chair Peta Murphy MP says, “This will give major sports and broadcasters time to find alternative advertisers and sponsors, while preventing another generation from experiencing escalating gambling harm.”
Other recommendations include an online gambling ombudsman, a harm reduction levy on online wagering service providers, a public education campaign and more independent research on gambling and its effects.
“Most Aussies have had a gutful of sports bet ads during our favourite matches,” Dean Grant says.
“And we worry about the exposure of our kids to the normalisation of gambling. For this reason, I abandoned my support of the Parramatta Eels while they retained a sports bet logo on their jerseys.
“Australians care about the results in our much-loved Ashes or State of Origin, but know they are far less important than the welfare of ordinary men and women, boys and girls, harmed by out-of-control sports betting.”
Although the report was handed down in June, the Federal Government is yet to announce whether it will implement its 31 recommendations in full. Dean Grant believes such support should be forthcoming immediately.
“Our Prime Minister should know there is no excuse for failure to implement the findings of this report,” he says. “There should be little delay in preparing the legislation that’s needed.”