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Good on ACMA for slapping Sportsbet with $3.7m in fines and penalties for what amounts to predatory marketing in the extreme. But this sickening spam attack also highlights the wider need for gambling reforms to finally bring unscrupulous operators to heel.

By trying to unsubscribe, the people targeted by Sportsbet were obviously keen to quit but the gambling giant was clearly intent on luring them back in. One of the best analogies I have heard is that Sportsbet’s behaviour is akin to dropping a slab of beer on an alcoholic’s doorstep. And worryingly this not an isolated episode because I regularly hear from online gambling addicts being pursued to reopen old accounts and establish new ones with new companies.

State and federal governments between them have the power to control every aspect of sports gambling. So every problem, for instance the excessive physical and technical advertising, could be remedied at the stroke of a pen or speedy passage of a parliamentary bill. That this isn’t happening reflects the toxic and pervasive power of Australian gambling companies over politicians and political parties.

Sports gambling ads and sponsorship, for instance, could be disallowed immediately. For someone who is not a gambling addict, these insidious ads are encouraging them to take up gambling. If you are an addict, or a recovering addict, it can be a trigger to gamble again.

Moreover we could also introduce national harm-minimisation measures like a pre-commitment system linking each app in real time to prevent gambling across multiple accounts to dodge pre-commitment caps. I have challenged the industry on this, and they tell me it is technically simple to do. So why don’t they bloody well do it?