Most Aussies support a ban on gambling ads, polling finds

The vast majority of Aussies support a ban on gambling advertising and consider such promos as being on par with hawking cigarettes, polling has found.

Research conducted by The Australia Institute probed attitudes towards a range of television commercials and whether they should be permitted.

“Seven-in-ten Australians agree that gambling ads on TV should be banned,” Noah Schultz-Byard, a director at the independent thinktank, told Mumbrella.

“One thing that was interesting from the research is that opposition to gambling ads on TV is not a partisan issue. That’s to say, the majority of people who vote for a range of political parties back a ban. That’s across Labor, the Coalition, the Greens and One Nation voters – the majority in each support a ban.”

It comes a week after a parliamentary inquiry delivered its report into the harms of online gambling, with 31 sweeping recommendations including a four-step, three-year phase out of gambling ads.

Media operators responded swiftly and furiously to the call.

That’s unsurprising, given the $300 million-plus spent on ads by gambling brands in 2022 – half of which went to free-to-air TV spots.

Major sporting organisations are also nervous, given they make about the same amount from sponsorship and revenue-sharing deals.

“The fact there’s so much money sloshing around just the advertising component of gambling only goes to show how much money is made from gambling – and problem gambling,” Schultz-Byard said.

It’s estimated Aussies lose $25 billion a year to gambling. That’s the most of any country.

“There’s only a threat to the bottom line of organisations who are profiting from the damaging done to the community. How much are we willing to tolerate? Are there other ways to support free-to-air television and our sporting codes that don’t cause significant harm.”

The Australia Institute’s research also found strong community support for regulating the advertising of junk food when kids are most likely to be watching TV. About two-thirds of respondents were in favour.

Almost half of Aussies also agree alcohol ads should be phased out – about double the number who disagree.

And when asked about the banning of tobacco ads – a step taken in the 1970s – almost all believe it’s a good thing, Schultz-Byard said.

“Banning gambling advertising is at a similar level to that support. So, it’s fair to say gambling ads are just as unpopular as the notion of tobacco advertising.”

The government said it will now take its time reviewing the report and its recommendations.

“While banning gambling ads is a significant step, it’s very politically feasible with support across the parliament and high support in the community,” Schultz-Byard said.

“I think the time for action has clearly come.”


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