Media Release: 31 October 2016

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) says the proliferation of gambling advertising, particularly sports betting, is positioning gambling as an integral and ‘normal’ part of enjoying sports, and is paving the way for young Australians to become the new generation of problem gamblers.

APS Executive Director, Professor Lyn Littlefield, says the Society is particularly concerned by the use of young people’s sporting ‘heros’ by sporting organisations and sports betting agencies to promote gambling.

“Young people are extremely vulnerable to the influence of high-profile people, so when they see their heros promoting gambling they are more likely to see gambling as a socially acceptable, even desirable, activity,” she says.

The APS has serious concerns about the impact on children and young people who are regular participants and viewers of sports that involve exposure to gambling advertising – such as horse racing, AFL, NRL and soccer.

Recent research shows that one in four children (aged 8 – 16 years) are able to identify four or more sports betting brands, that advertising featuring celebrities was likely to positively influence children, and that high frequency marketing during sporting matches was perceived by children as being particularly influential in seeing gambling as a part of sport.

The APS says an increase in exposure to gambling advertising and opportunities is a risk-factor for the development of gambling problems, particularly among vulnerable groups in the community such as young people.

Prof Littlefield says, “Young people’s familiarity with internet technology and use in all aspects of their lives makes them particularly vulnerable to online gambling at a point in time when addiction problems may commence.”

The APS says young people should be the focus of targeted gambling prevention programs, and that there should be regulation of the burgeoning advertising of gambling so that it does not deliberately target this vulnerable group.

This could include banning gambling-related marketing aimed at children, young people and families, banning gambling sponsorship of junior sport, incorporating harm minimisation messages through sport, and the promotion of healthy sporting participation.

In its submission to the Senate Inquiry into Interactive Gambling Amendment (Sports Betting Reform) Bill 2015, the APS also called for bans on gambling advertising during G-rated programs and sporting programs.

“The concern is that with younger people gambling, and the greater proportion gambling online, that this might represent new waves of problem gamblers in five, ten or twenty years,” says Prof Littlefield.

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Further information:

Gambling related harm – APS resources and submissions:


For more information, or to arrange an interview call Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358 or 0435 896 444, or email  Find the APS Media team on Twitter:  @AustPsych.                                                                                                              

The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.