December 12, 2023 3 min read

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Australia’s Government Faces Renewed Calls for a Gambling Ad Ban

Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, and Treasury Andrew Leigh is the latest advocate for a stricter stance on potentially harmful marketing practices

Leigh’s recent statements aim to honor the late MP Peta Murphy, who recently passed away from cancer. Murphy was also a staunch supporter of a more comprehensive government effort to reduce problem gaming, such as national regulation, an online gambling ombudsman, a harm reduction levy on online wagering service providers (WSPs), and a public education campaign.

Government Representatives Honored Murphy’s Legacy

During a tribute to Murphy, Leigh underscored her dedication to gambling reform, especially her passion for the recommendations outlined by a cross-party committee on online gambling harm. Murphy chaired this committee, which submitted its report to the government in June, proposing a phased ban on online gambling ads over three years as a primary measure.

It would be a fitting tribute to Peta if parliament were to enact that ban and name it after her. And, as a side benefit, we could forever redefine the term ‘Murphy’s law.

Andrew Leigh, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, and Treasury

While the Australian government hasn’t formally responded to these recommendations, officials have been engaging with industry stakeholders, leaning towards limiting the frequency of ads on TV and radio rather than imposing a complete ban. According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, several anonymous MPs also expressed their support for such measures, even favoring a total advertising ban.

Acknowledging Murphy’s commitment to gambling reform, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese highlighted her advocacy for significant changes, including curbing the harm caused by online gambling. While the topic of gambling ads remains contentious and has been the subject of multiple discussions, Murphy was undoubtedly one of the driving forces for change in the sector.

Australia Still Faces Significant Regulatory Deficiencies

While Labor has previously implemented measures to address gambling issues, Responsible Wagering Australia, the body representing wagering service providers, opposes a blanket ban. They argue that it would significantly impact revenues that support various sectors, including regional broadcasters, sports integrity programs, and Australian content. The currently considered partial restrictions could be a reasonable alternative.

Australia’s rapidly growing gambling harm rates have been an increasingly pressing issue for the federal government. Opposition communications spokesman David Coleman criticized the current lack of initiative, drawing attention to the recently rejected bill to ban gambling ads before and after sports matches. Current regulations allow ads to stop five minutes before a game, but nothing prevents gambling companies from promoting odds during play.

Recent legislation banning the use of credit cards in iGaming was a hallmark success, but it is only one step towards solving the country’s endemic issue. As the debate around gambling advertisements continues, the push for a ban gains momentum, aligning with concerns about the impact of pervasive gambling promotions on individuals and society at large.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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