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More Australians gambling online as AMA calls for government regulation

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The AMA is calling on the federal government to do more to regulate online gambling platforms and advertising of online gambling products in a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Gambling and its Impacts on Those Experiencing Gambling Harm.

It comes as new research from the Australian Gambling Research Center shows many Australians opened accounts with online gambling companies for the first time during COVID-19. Nearly 1 in 3 of those surveyed said they signed up for a new online betting account during COVID-19. Young men were the most likely group to sign up for new accounts, increase their monthly spend on gambling and be at risk of gambling-related harm.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said while online gambling has been of increasing concern for the past decade, calls for an independent regulator — which the AMA raised in its 2013 position statement on gambling — have gone unheeded.

“It is astounding to think that despite the ubiquity of mobile internet technology and the advertising of online gambling on television and social platforms like YouTube, governments have largely shown an unwillingness to step-up to the gambling industry, and set in place a strong regulatory framework,” Professor Robson said.

“While some states and territories have begun to examine and enact restrictions on the advertising of online gambling, more and more Australians — especially younger Australians — are being subjected to the sophisticated advertising of the predatory, multi-billion-dollar gambling industry.”

Professor Robson told Sky News the advertising of online gambling meant more children were being exposed to the products.

“I think what we’ve seen is a huge change in the landscape of advertising around online gambling … there is an enormous chance for children to be exposed to information and opportunities for online gambling.”

Professor Robson said doctors also need to be equipped to recognize and support people who are struggling with gambling.

He told Sky News it is “important that we destigmatise gambling problems so that people are not embarrassed, they are not afraid to come forward to healthcare workers and others to disclose the fact that they are affected by online gambling.”

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