The public accounts and estimates committee delivers report to Labour government with 61 recommendations to improve public health outcomes related to gambling and alcohol
The Victoria Labour government has been urged by the public accounts and estimates committee to ban gambling advertising in public places and during prime-time hours on TV.
The headline recommendation comes out of the cross-parliament report published today, 28 November, which explored regulation preventing and treating gambling-related harm.
As part of 61 recommendations laid out to government, the committee has urged Victoria’s government to “consider banning gambling advertising in areas that come under state jurisdiction, such as public places”.
The same recommendation also included a point on “introducing stricter rules on primetime gambling advertising”, with the group pointing towards successful case studies from the Southern Australian government.
Rules introduced in Southern Australia in 2013 prohibit gambling advertising on TV between 4pm and 7.30pm Monday to Friday and also forbids live odds being displayed during sports broadcasts.
The report cited a Nielsen study which found that, on average, 948 gambling ads were broadcast daily on free-to-air TV channels in Victoria, including 148 between 6pm and 8.30pm every weeknight in 2021.
Further research claimed that between May 2022 and April 2023, more than one million gambling ads were aired on free-to-air television and radio across Australia.
Alongside the advertising recommendation, the committee has pressed the government to push the national government to implement a nationwide ban on advertising that is “in line with international best practice”.
The report highlights markets such as Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium as countries which have or are preparing to introduce blank bans on gambling advertising.
Elsewhere, other key recommendations delivered to the government include examining the potential to introduce daily, weekly and annual loss limits, once again drawing on examples from Europe in the shape of Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The 10-person committee also implored Victoria’s government to push at a national level to “compel online gambling providers to provide comprehensive anonymised data on customer use of their products”, with an aim to improve gambling-related harm outcomes.
Additionally, recommendations included an examination of gambling firms’ donations to political parties in Victoria given the “potential for harm caused by products” as well as further funding to push forward with a public health approach for treatment and prevention.
Sarah Connolly, MP for Laverton and the committee chair, said: “Despite inroads being made to reduce gambling and alcohol-related harm to the Victorian community, there is still more work that both government and the industry can do.
“The committee has made 61 recommendations that it believes, if implemented, will result in a safer community. More appropriate regulations and safeguards are needed to protect Victorians, especially our children and young people.
“Our culture has often been described as one that tends to normalise both drinking and gambling. The committee heard evidence to suggest that this has become more entrenched than ever with the rise in social media and digital technology. This is certainly something that needs to be addressed, with states, territories and the Commonwealth all having an important role to play,” she added.
The report in Victoria comes after a federal parliamentary inquiry in June 2023 also called for a ban on online gambling ads to be phased in over the next three years.
EGR spoke to several key industry figures following the publication of that inquiry to gauge their reaction to the potentially significant regulatory changes in Australia.