CQUni's gambling researchers highlight warning signs as footy finals season ramps up

15 September 2021

With footy finals season well under way' CQUniversity's gambling researchers have recognised the allure of increased gambling advertising and inducements – and the warning signs of when gambling becomes a major concern.

Researchers Professor Matthew Rockloff' Professor Nerilee Hing' Professor Matthew Browne and Dr Alex Russell from the Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory have highlighted that gambling operators may ramp up their advertising in the lead up to the NRL and AFL finals.

"Our research shows that being exposed to more advertising and inducements is linked to more betting'" said Prof Hing.

"Online gambling operators in Australia mostly rely on two key products - sports betting and race betting. In terms of sports' the winter football codes (NRL and AFL in particular) are major products for these gambling operators' so there's a lot of advertising around them'" Prof Hing said.

Dr Russell said while some football fans might be less interested in betting on a game if their team is no longer in contention' the advertising is still in play.

"Gambling ads won't stop once the finals are over. The next major event is the Spring Racing Carnival' including the Melbourne Cup' in early November' before the start of summer sports' especially cricket'" Dr Russell said.

Prof Rockloff said their research showed that gambling advertising and promotions aren't always benign.

"Our research suggests that promotions' such as free bets' can encourage people to take greater risks with their money. Consequently' promotions that add value can ironically lead to greater long-term losses." Prof Rockloff said.

"You might also get offers such as bonus bets' matching deposits and special offers that tempt you to bet more than you can afford'" Dr Russell added.

Prof Hing said although no one sets out to experience problems from gambling' it happens to many people anyway.

"Research indicates that around 40% of regular bettors experience harm from their gambling. These harms can include serious financial' relationship and mental health problems'" she said.

"Gambling is a misunderstood addiction' but it is an addiction nonetheless and can easily take hold like a drug or alcohol addiction. And once it takes hold' it can be extremely difficult to shake.

"Unfortunately' most people won't seek help until the harms become severe - it usually takes a crisis' because most people feel they have it under control until it's too late. Punters can help to prevent these problems from happening by setting limits on their gambling through their wagering operator' and by setting aside a fixed amount to bet which they can afford to lose."

Prof Browne said those close to someone who gambles were often affected as well' but there were warning signs they could be on the lookout for.

"Those close to someone who gambles can also approach the Gambling Help Line for advice'" he said.

"It is important to recognise that gambling does not just harm the person who gambles' but also those around them. Our research shows that for every person who experiences problems' about six people around them are negatively affected. For those experiencing less severe problems' it's about three people around them who are affected."

Things to lookout for include:

-Thinking about gambling a lot when you're not doing it.
-Thinking more about gambling than the actual sport you're betting on.
-Placing larger and larger bets' or more frequent bets' to get the same rush from gambling.
-Chasing your losses - i.e.' placing more bets to try to win back what you've lost.
-Running out of money to do other things' like going out with friends' or paying your bills.
-If people are having a chat to you about your gambling - it's often difficult to approach someone about a problem like this' so if they've actually mentioned your gambling' they've taken a big step already.
-If you've ever felt you had a problem' or ever thought "I went a bit too far today"' listen to that little voice and make the call to the Gambling Help Line.

Help is available through the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 or https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au . Help is confidential and available 24/7.

CQUniversity's gambling research team is always looking for people to help us with their research.

If you're interested in taking part' please go to www.cqu.edu.au/lewis and complete the first survey. This survey tells us a bit about you - who you are' what you like to bet on (if anything)' and so on. When we have a study that we think is relevant to you' we'll invite you. There's no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

More of their research can be found here https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/resources/publications/gambling-advertising-and-promotions-before-during-and-after-the-initial-covid-19-lockdown-and-sports-shutdown-in-australia-972/