Online gambling companies will be forced to tell their customers “chances are you’re about to lose” under a new set of rules in the National Consumer Protection Framework.
The social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, will announce the changes on Wednesday, with the federal government mandating what it says is the first set of nationally consistent messages around the potential harms of online gambling.
Currently, online gambling companies tell users to “gamble responsibly” in their advertisements. From early next year, online wagering companies will be required to run a set of new messages in ads they share via TV, radio, apps, digital or print advertising, social media, and websites, with new taglines including:
Chances are you’re about to lose.
Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?
What’s gambling really costing you?
What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit.
Imagine what you could be buying instead.
You win some. You lose more.
What are you really gambling with?
The ads, in most cases, must be accompanied by the advisory “For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit gamblinghelponline.org.au”.
An updated version of the consumer protection framework will also require gambling companies to ensure a full rotation of the taglines over a 12-month period to mitigate “message fatigue” for users.
“Online wagering is fast becoming an increasing source of gambling and an increasing source of loss for people,” Rishworth said. “We have consulted widely and, importantly, we have used evidence to inform these taglines.”
The new taglines have come after extensive behavioral research. The government recently opened a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling and gambling harm, which will examine existing consumer protections, counselling and support services, education programs, regulation and licensing schemes, and whether laws should be extended to “gambling-like activities” in video games like loot boxes or social casino games.
The government said Australia has the highest gambling losses of any country, at an average of $1,276 a person each year, with problem gambling rates more than doubling from 0.6% of the adult population in 2011 to 1.23% in 2019.
The rates of problem gambling in online users is even higher, at 3.9% of all online gamblers, according to a report from Central Queensland University, compared to 1.4% of gamblers who use poker machines. The government said the size of the “interactive wagering market” is estimated at $6.3bn, compared to electronic gaming at $9bn.