Time to get tough on spread of gambling, says uni expert

Tom Waterhouse has become the face of TV and online gambling.
Tom Waterhouse has become the face of TV and online gambling. Scott Barbour / Getty Images

GAMBLING advertising should have restrictions similar to those imposed on the alcohol and tobacco industries, a Sunshine Coast academic says.

Counselling lecturer and former Relationships Australia program leader Neil Mellor says a phenomenal growth has occurred in internet gambling and sports betting.

This has been prompted by the "widespread promotion of gambling associated with sporting events and public recreational events".

Mr Mellor said the risk was that the growth "sanitises and normalises gambling so people think it's a normal pastime".

"It has the effect of suggesting this is usual practice," he said.

"People forget they can lose money. They then get into a situation where they have to try and get it back."


Doing this, from the comfort of your own lounge with your credit card, is much easier than in a pub or club with pokie machines.

"You are one step removed," Mr Mellor said.

"When you are running down your credit card or betting account, you don't get the sense you have spent a lot of money.

"The restrictions are minimal in terms of betting online.

"There is low accountability. You are easily caught in a psychological space where your impulse control is severely diminished."

The Sunshine Coast has an unhealthy love for gambling, spending $11 million at the 88 licensed poker machine venues in March.

Mr Mellor said it was time the Government did something.

"Federal advertising restrictions are central to setting the tone, but the state needs to have a position as well," he said.

He said the Queensland Government was failing to do enough to warn about the dangers of gambling.

Attorney-General, Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie, disagreed. He said last night the best way to deal with the issue was with a consistent, national framework. The federal Coalition would impose a live betting blackout if the television indistry did not take action.

>> Contact the Gambling Help Service on 1800 858858 or visit

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This poll ended on 22 June 2013.

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