The potential for harm has increased with the proliferation of online gambling.
The nature of online gambling involves greater risk because consumers can bet (and lose) money immediately and continuously at all times of the day, on seemingly endless outcomes, and without needing to travel to a venue.
Exposure to these risks is exacerbated in an environment that is both highly competitive and profitable, which creates conditions in which providers are increasingly incentivised to develop and offer products that have the effect of intensifying harmful gambling.
Wagering – betting on races, sports or novelty outcomes, like who will win a reality TV show – is now largely conducted online. Products are persuasively offered via technologies that at all times facilitate a direct and largely unmoderated transaction between the provider, the consumer and the consumer’s bank accounts. Further, inducements, complex offers, the availability of credit and ease of access to betting continue to encourage increased risk of harmful spending.
Australian children are currently exposed to saturation levels of gambling advertising. Young people are growing up to think that the value of sport is in the opportunity to gamble on it, which they believe is normal and without risk. Young men aged 18–24 are now the largest group of sports bettors in Victoria, and recent data show that the COVID-19 pandemic and lengthy periods of lockdown significantly increased the proportion of sports bettors who gamble online. This suggests that related harms will also have increased.
This discussion paper draws on the findings of Foundation-funded and other academic studies, market research and public discourse, as well as policy and regulatory responses such as the National Consumer Protection Framework. In so doing, the Foundation has sought to highlight current issues, challenges and opportunities with regard to preventing and reducing the risk of harm in the online gambling environment.