The chief executive of an Australian problem gambling organisation has called on the country’s powers to tackle what she believes is a snowballing issue.
Carol Bennett and the Alliance for Gambling Reform extrapolated recent figures from the UK Gambling Commission to estimate that 14,400 Australian children under 16 are problematic gamblers.
The organisation also estimated that 38,400 children in the country are risky gamblers, with 432,000 under-16s purported to be betting in Australia.
Bennett then appeared in the The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs’ inquiry into online gambling.
She criticised the Australian government for not having prevention, early intervention and other facets of a “comprehensive public health approach towards regulating and managing a product that causes the extent of harm that gambling does.”
Bennett also called for public education on gambling – independent of the industry – that avoids the industry “suggesting that we should be looking at responsible gambling and blaming the individual.”
She added that a “coordinated national approach” would help Australian gambling because state regulation, she said, allows for “anomalies” and the regulation is “just not keeping up.”
Bennett was joined in the inquiry hearing by Reverend Timothy Costello, the chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform. Rev Costello highlighted gambling losses as another issue in the country.
He said: “We have a fear that if we don’t see changes to ensure proper regulation and protection of our kids from online gambling then it’s highly likely that in the next years we will see a royal commission tasked with answering the question of why we catastrophically failed to prevent the escalation of gambling harm beyond acceptable levels and literally the mainstreaming, normalising or even grooming of kids.”