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Co-conveners of the Parliamentary Friends of Gambling Harm Reduction, Andrew Wilkie MP and Rebekha Sharkie MP, joined the Alliance for Gambling Reform and Associate Professor Angela Rintoul to discuss the strategies and supports for people suffering gambling harm.

“Almost one year ago, the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, chaired by the late Ms Peta Murphy, released its report into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm,” Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, said. “However, the Government is yet to implement the Committee’s recommendations, including the much needed ban on gambling advertising.

“The impacts of online gambling can be devastating. I’ve heard countless stories about the toll it has on people’s finances, relationships, employment and mental wellbeing, in some cases leading to suicide. This is unconscionable and demonstrates the alarming gaps in reform by the Government, who continues to pander to the gambling industry. Evidently a public health approach to gambling that prioritises the health of populations over economic factors is desperately needed.

“A gambling advertising ban is particularly important as the community has had a gutful of gambling being promoted and normalised. Too often people, including children, are bombarded with targeted campaigns on television, billboards and phones. Ad are everywhere and are grooming young people for future gambling addiction.

“The shocking human cost of gambling addiction will continue so long as governments refuse to implement meaningful harm minimisation measures. In the absence of good Australian data, I was horrified to learn today that the rate of suicide in Sweden is 15 times greater for people with gambling addiction, while in Hong Kong 20 per cent of suicides are attributed to gambling addiction. There is no reason to think the situation in Australia is any better.

“It’s way beyond time we see widespread reform that genuinely minimises the human cost of gambling addiction, including suicide. The Government must stop kicking the can further down the road and implement the 31 recommendations of the Murphy report as quickly as possible.”