Gambling with COVID: the other epidemic

As the cost of living continues to rise Australians are splurging more money on gambling than ever before. 

A new report says the number of punters has grown due to the pandemic and more people staying indoors. 

Independent candidate for South Australia Nick Xenophon has called for sports betting advertisements to have the same restrictions as alcohol advertising to avoid peak viewing times for children. 

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Shane Lucas says the constant gambling advertisements are sending the wrong message to children.

“I think we’d all like to see these sports betting advertisements getting further away from kids,” says Mr Lucas.

Data from the Nielsen institute found that the amount of gambling advertisements have increased by 253 per cent since 2016. 

The data showed expenditure of $287.2 million dollars by the gambling industry on advertising in Australia last year, which is an increase of $15.9 million dollars from 2020.

Along with the advertising, having more people in isolation is also resulting in people placing more bets. 

The Australian Institute of Family Studies conducted a survey of 2000 participants across Australia who partake in gambling.

The survey found that one in three participants signed up for a new online betting account during the COVID-19 pandemic and one in 20 started gambling online.

Sports punter Jayden Menner of Cockburn says his betting significantly increased as a result of the lack of activities available. 

“I have definitely bet more during the isolation period, mainly because there’s not that much to do,” he says.

Menner says during his time locked in doors, he found himself watching lots of sport, which encouraged him to bet.

When punter Jack Silcock of Canning Vale was bedridden with COVID-19, he says his betting increased and so did the amount he lost.

“I easily doubled the amount of bets that I normally put on and I’d say I lost a lot more money than what I won,”  he says.

Australians lose more than $1.2 billion on sports betting each year and the number of people who are involved in gambling is still currently rising.

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