Call to ban sports betting ads

hawks.jpgI like to watch basketball, football and soccer. When I cannot get to a game, I like to watch it at home on television. Generally speaking, when I watch a game at home I like to do it with my family. But what offends me is that I can no longer do this without the incessant promotion of gambling—from the live odds to the game outcome to exotic bets on just about anything that goes on throughout the game, like the next try. I think I am in union with most average football fans when I say: enough is enough.

I am not against gambling. Next Sunday I will be attending the local racetrack with a lot of my friends and colleagues. When I do that, I will have a bet. I will probably be the same as the majority of other adults who walk through the gates next Sunday at Kembla Grange: we will be having a punt on the races. It would be a very rare adult who walked through the gates to go to the local racetrack who did not have a bet. But it is very different when we go to the football. It is not yet the case that the majority of people who go to the football have a bet on the outcome of the game. It is not yet part and parcel of the culture of going to the football. It is part and parcel of the culture of going to the races.

If it is going to be a normal part of going to the game and taking your kids along to the game, I think we need an important public debate about this. I think the majority of Australians feel quite uncomfortable about the excessive promotion of gambling when they take their kids to a football, soccer or basketball game, or indeed when they are sitting in their own living room watching a game on television. There should be a public debate. If it is going to be normalised, we are going to have to change the way we broadcast these things. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that, if it is going to be normalised that we incessantly promote gambling throughout a football game broadcast, we put out parental guidance warnings prior to the beginning of the match so that parents are able to have a conversation with their kids or perhaps switch the channel to another station that is broadcasting the football or another game without the incessant promotion of gambling throughout the game.

I have spoken to many people within my electorate, many other sports fans and many other parents on this matter, and they just about explode when you raise the issue with them. They complain that they can no longer go to their local football game without having the odds blared out at them throughout breaks at the game, or sit at home watching the game with their kids without the odds being broadcast throughout the game. They complain that their kids can now quote the odds on their team winning or losing, or on certain outcomes throughout the game. I do not think this is something that most Australians feel comfortable with.

I believe that the code should act. It is my view that from whistle to whistle at a game there should be a blanket ban on the promotion of gaming throughout the course of that sporting fixture. I think the same should apply to the broadcast.

If the codes do not act and embrace this proposition, then I think this parliament should act on that issue. I, for one, intend to raise the matter in my party room, and I would encourage—in what has been a very fractious 43rd parliament—members of other parties and members on the crossbenches to consider the matter as well. I think that if we did this—made a bipartisan effort—on this particular issue, we would prove that, on this particular issue, on this issue perhaps alone, we are in lockstep with the Australian community. Something needs to be done, because I do not think Australians feel comfortable about the fact that our sporting games are now being bombarded with this incessant advertising.