Australia has been considered a gambling nation for a very long time. Australian gamblers lose approximately $25 billion per year on pokies, casinos, animal racing, sports betting, and lotteries. Former gambling addicts share their disturbing stories.
A Story of a Former Addicted Gambler
Mark Kempster, 34, relates that it all started on AFL Grand Final day in 2020 when he went to a pub and lost thousands of dollars in gambling. Then, as he was very angry and upset, he decided to drink his sorrow away. He spent the night at the house of a friend, and when he returned home the next day, his girlfriend checked the bank accounts and found out the truth.
Mark experienced seven-year gambling addiction, particularly sports matches and horseracing bets on his mobile phone. As a result, his family lost more than $100,000. Paradoxically, Mark worked at an online betting company, accumulated huge debts, and distanced himself from friends and relatives due to his secretive behavior.
Currently, Mark has recovered from compulsive gambling and has not bet for almost two years, although he states that it was not easy at all given the constant gambling ads and continuing contact with gambling companies that have tried to entice him.
Mark Kempster is one of the many former addicted gamblers who have asked a parliamentary survey to investigate the impact of online gambling on Australian citizens and whether the people are protected enough from gambling products.
According to Mark, the gambling industry is “predatory” and gains benefits from the most vulnerable people.
Research reveals that only 35 percent of Australians bet in an average month, and many of them gamble via lottery tickets. However, Australia has always been one of the most gambling nations. According to formerly addicted gamblers, the government has no interest to reduce betting practices, because it obtains tax revenue from gambling companies.
New Generation, New Ways of Betting
Per many experts, the new generation of phone apps is the reason for the rapid growth of mobile phone gambling. Australian citizens gamble approximately 20 percent more online than any other country. Rebecca Jenkinson, from the Australian Gambling Research Centre, states that online gambling has increased unexpectedly, while the other standard forms of gambling have remained on the same level or even decreased a little. The COVID situation also contributed to the growth of online gambling.
Responsible Wagering Australia responded to the criticism by stating that the giants in the gambling industry, such as Sportsbet and bet365, offer more than 32,000 jobs and contributed nearly $2 billion in taxes and levies in the prior fiscal year. The group also commented that it was open to conversations with the government in relation to possible changes in the betting legislation.
One of the possible amendments concerns the number of TV advertisements. There are limitations on broadcast times and warning messages were introduced. However, a full ban on gambling ads has been sought. Other potential changes are related to daily gambling restrictions, and centralizing the supervision of the industry, among others.