Over the last few days, as the Racing Season has picked up, I’ve noticed gambling ads frequenting before YouTube videos, on the sidelines of articles and floating near the top of a page. For all I know, one may appear on this very article!
After being told to “lift my game” by BetEasy for about the 30th time in 3 hours, I decided enough was enough, I’m going to try and block these ads from appearing, I’m sick of seeing them.
Now, I know there’s an easy way of using an adblocker, however, as someone who uses YouTube often, I understand that individuals on that platform make tiny margins from their content and by watching the ads I’m supporting them as creators, so, using that method was a no.
I decided to click the little ‘i’ and see where it would lead me.
A fairly innocuous little popup appeared, however, where it would lead me is more important.
I came across a section which outlined certain interest it had found, some of which were highly accurate, some much less so (eg. Vehicle Shopping, Parenting and World Music).
Scrolling through though, there appeared to be an exhaustive list. However, there were two likely culprits that I saw as leading to the gambling ads – “Rugby” and “Australian Football”.
However, there was no clear gambling button to click, not a thing! And when I tried to dig deeper by being able to control ads from other networks, I found out there were 134 OTHER organisations trying to advertise to me, none of which was easily discernable as a gambling platform.
Ultimately, it was just a mess, none of it was easy to use and none of it helped me reach my goal – cutting out gambling.
Which is when it hit me, there is no need for Google or other companies to stop you from seeing Gambling ads. Sure, if you’re underage, they’ll make that you don’t see any, but as an adult, they have no responsibility to. Especially when gambling companies spent a whopping $253.2 million on ads in 2017.
Part of the reason advertising is so prolific is a 2008 High Court case which made it illegal for individual states to place bans on advertising as it breaches the constitutional right guaranteeing the absolute freedom of interstate trade and commerce (section 92.)
Thus, any form of ban needs to be sorted by COAG on a federal level to make it consistent across all states and territories.
“Three-quarters of 8- to 16-year-olds interviewed could name at least one gambling brand, and one-quarter could name four or more.”
What I’d like to see as an option developed into policy, is the ability for consumers to ban receiving certain advertisements that are deemed sensitive or have a negative community outcome.
Google Adsense has already developed categories of “sensitive” ads which include gambling and alcohol.
There is a major community benefit that can come from this. Individuals who are recovering alcoholics or who are problem gamblers can reduce the amount of online bombardment they receive pushing them towards relapse.
With 200,000 Australians having an issue with gambling, according to the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (Hilda), this is a serious area of concern.
200,000 Australians having an issue with gambling
Another important figure is that found about the effect of gambling advertising on Children. According to the ‘Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation,‘ a “2016 Foundation-funded study ‘Child and parent recall of gambling sponsorship in Australian sport‘ collected data from children and parents at community sporting venues in New South Wales and Victoria. Three-quarters of 8- to 16-year-olds interviewed could name at least one gambling brand, and one-quarter could name four or more.”.
These sorts of studies show just how prevalent the issue is and current federal government action has been slow to tackle the issue. Hopefully, in the coming year, with state elections in Victoria and NSW, with a federal election to be had at the latest in November 2019, we can only hope our candidates put forward true, transformative policy to help deal with the scourge this is creating.
For further reading, you can read a report on this topic by the former Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform from 2012