Sports betting on the rise

Sports betting on the rise

Media release — 26 November 2014

Australian sports betting has grown substantially during the last decade and is a significant contributor to rates of problem gambling – especially among young men – according to a discussion paper released today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The Institute’s Australian Gambling Research Centre Manager, Dr Anna Thomas said that 1 in 7 Australian adults gambles on sports, the only area of gambling activity to have grown in recent years.

“Expenditure on sports betting has doubled between 2005-6 and 2011-12 and continued growth is predicted,” Dr Thomas said.

“This growth has been accompanied by extensive promotion of sports betting and there is now concern in the community about the promotion of gambling through sport, especially the potential negative impacts on children and problem gamblers.”

The sports betting discussion paper was released today by the Australian Gambling Research Centre to coincide with the launch of the Centre’s new website along with three other discussion papers – the impact of gambling on families; Indigenous Australians and gambling; and interactive gambling.

The author of the sports betting paper, Southern Cross University Professor, Nerilee Hing, said the growth of sports betting in Australia was partly attributable to the growth in online gambling.

“Half of all sports betting is now conducted online and many commercial arrangements now exist between sporting entities and bookmakers. These arrangements have increased sports betting marketing and contributed to its growth,” Professor Hing said.

“However, it is the embedding of sports betting promotions into live and televised sport that has attracted most controversy. This practice has been fuelled by the escalation of sport sponsorships and advertising rights purchased by sports betting operators.

“This so-called ‘gamblification’ of sport may transfer images associated with sport, promoting gambling as healthy, harmless fun that – like sport – relies primarily on skill.

“Embedding sports gambling into televised sport has meant that many young men now discuss betting odds and feel pressured to gamble to fit in.

“Gambling support services also report increases in the number of clients, particularly young men, seeking help for sports betting-related problems.”

Professor Hing said 2013 amendments to the broadcast advertising code, banning in-match commentary and on-screen displays of live betting odds were positive, but community education and social marketing strategies were needed to target groups at high-risk.

“Governments may also need to consider reviewing exemptions for sport-integrated marketing during general TV viewing times and the quantity and types of advertisements and promotions allowed, such as money-back ‘guarantees’ and ‘free’ bets requiring matching deposits,” she said.

The first in a new series of Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) discussion papers released today focus on:

  • ‘The impact of gambling problems on families’ by Deakin University School of Psychology Associate Professor, Nicki Dowling, which analyses the available research about how gambling problems affect family relationships and family members, how families cope with gambling problems, and the assessment and therapy options available to the family members of people with gambling problems. It examines the link between gambling and family violence, with more than half of those with gambling problems reporting being responsible for physical violence against their children. AGRC Discussion Paper # 1
  • ‘Indigenous Australians and gambling’ by Southern Cross University Director of the Centre for Gambling Education and Research Professor, Nerilee Hing and Adjunct Senior Researcher, Helen Breen that outlines how about one-fifth of Indigenous Australians have a problem with gambling, a rate much higher than the broader Australian population. Of Indigenous Australians who gamble, nearly two-thirds are at risk or have problems with gambling. Almost half (44 per cent) do not think they have a gambling problem. Indigenous women have lower rates of problem gambling than Indigenous men. AGRC Discussion Paper # 2
  • ‘Interactive gambling’ by Southern Cross University Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Gambling Education and Research, Dr Sally Gainsbury, which details statistics showing that around 8 per cent of Australians gamble interactively, up from 1 per cent in 1999. Australians now access 2,233 offshore gambling sites and about 30-35 Australian online gambling sites. Despite its small population, in 2012 Australia was estimated to account for 5 per cent of the global online gambling market. AGRC Discussion Paper # 3
  • ‘Sports betting and advertising’ by Southern Cross University Director of the Centre for Gambling Education and Research Professor, Nerilee Hing. AGRC Discussion Paper # 4

The Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) provides high-quality, evidence-based publications and resources for policy makers, researchers and professionals in the area of gambling. The Centre is based within the Australian Institute of Family Studies. For more information on the AGRC go to the new website.

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