Week to talk about responsible gambling

Ballarat apprentices will be targeted by a responsible gambling initiative at Federation University this week after revelations of an upsurge in sports betting among young men.

As part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, the building and construction apprentices will learn about gambling responsibly, how to put risk reduction strategies in place and developing support networks.

In August, The Courier revealed sports betting has increased about 15 per cent each year for the past five years.

Monash University’s Charles Livingstone said it was “almost certainly going to produce a whole new generation of people harmed by gambling”.

Yet calls for a blanket ban on sports betting advertising before 9pm has been ignored.

Currently the commercial industry code prohibits gambling advertising during any program classified C, G or P between 6am and 8.30am and 4pm and 7pm, and between 5am and 8.30pm on any program principally directed at children.

Yet family programs after 7pm and sporting broadcasts are open slather.

Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne’s Dr Nathan Grills says kids as young as eight can name multiple brands of betting agencies, often gleaned from half-time advertising breaks in the footy or drinks time at the cricket.

Both the state government and the Australian Communications and Media Authority are pushing for a bipartisan, whole of government approach to gambling advertising regulation.

Given the well documented harm of poker machines in the community – $54.6 million in losses in Ballarat alone last financial year – surely any other form of gambling needs to be tightly regulated to minimise its harm.

And now it’s easier to beat than ever before. Just load up the app on your mobile phone, hand over your credit card details and you can gamble on the result of an Indian versus Sri Lanka cricket game on the sub-continent from the comfort of your armchair.

While sports betting is still nowhere the juggernaut industry the pokies are, it has the long-term potential to create harm in the community.

Last week, we were encouraged to talk about mental health awareness. This week, it’s time to talk about responsible gambling – and responsible advertising of gambling.