An Australian senator has reiterated calls to ban gambling advertising in the country, saying that people are expecting the government to enact “bold” reforms.
David Pocock, who is also a former professional rugby union player, made the comments in the Australian Senate on November 6 during his statement on gambling advertising.
Pocock was responding to recent claims made in Australian newspapers that the minister for communications, Michelle Rowland, will be announcing reforms to gambling advertising soon. One article in the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that the reforms would see the sports-betting industry offer to remove logos from football club match-day jerseys.
The senator warned that “according to the Sydney Morning Herald, a well-placed source has said that the decision 'won't be about evidence and reports'. They said: It will be a high-level political decision driven by a desire to minimise blowback from TV companies and the sports.”
In June 2023, an Australian parliamentary committee called for online gambling advertising to be banned in its entirety in four phases over three years, the most punishing of 31 sweeping recommendations that industry lobbyists called “a step too far” and “short-sighted”.
Pocock said he would “give the government the benefit of the doubt”, but he hoped that “it chooses to back the voices of the people in our communities who have had enough”.
“We seem to have a rare moment of multipartisan support on this. I want to recognise the work of the member for Dunkley, Peta Murphy, in driving this conversation forward and for bringing every party together to agree on a way forward. What her committee recommended was a ban. I want to echo her statement on Sunday (November 5) that anything short of this will not reduce harm. That's what the evidence shows. It's time to get this done,” Pocock said.
The senator went on to highlight that on a per capita basis, “Australians are the biggest losers in the world, losing around $25bn a year”.
He also mentioned that one out of ten 16 and 17-year-olds are at risk of problem gambling, and 75 percent of 8 to 16-year-olds think betting on sport is just a normal thing that you do.
According to the senator, Gamblers Anonymous groups are also now reporting more teens seeking help for addiction.
Communities across the country are frustrated by not just the level of advertising, but the impacts that they are seeing it have on the next generation of Australians.
"Our communities are expecting bold reforms that address the very well-documented harms,” he said.
Pocock was elected to the Senate in mid-2022, outgunning the Australian Capital Territory’s incumbent conservative senator for the post.
His progressive agenda and sporting reputation have quickly elevated him to one of the two most high-profile anti-gambling members of the federal parliament, along with lower house independent Andrew Wilkie.
Additional Reporting: Martin Williams