Samantha Thomas is Associate Professor of Public Health at Deakin University.
Last week we had the privilege of having Sam in the Auckland office for an exclusive presentation on Deakin University's research on sports betting and youth in Australia.
Thank you to all the gambling harm providers who joined us that day, and thank you Sam, it was a fascinating talk.
Afterwards we sat down with Sam to find out what New Zealander's can take away from her research...
Why have you decided to come to New Zealand and present on this topic?
What sort of information can New Zealanders learn from your research?
What are the key take-away points from your presentation?
- That sports betting is an issue that primarily impacts on young people and young adults. It is the only form of gambling that has increased in participation in the last five years.
- That sports betting is not just about online gambling. There are multiple opportunities to gamble on almost any sport, in any environment, any time and this has increased prevalence and risk.
- There is a clear normalisation trajectory for sports betting in young people. Marketing plays a role in this. First it was an awareness of ‘odds’, then recall of brand names, then an ability to recall the creatives within ads. Children as young as eight can now name specific marketing promotions such as ‘cash back’ deals, and many say that they will try betting when they are older.
- We can’t assume that the only risks are with apps. Our research shows that young men may be gravitating, at least in part, to social gambling settings such as pubs, with wagering becoming embedded within the social rituals traditionally tied to pubs.
What did you discover in your research on the impacts on sports betting in Australia, that's relevant for New Zealanders?
- Our research provides a cautionary tale from the Australian context for governments that have, or are currently considering the legislation of online wagering.
- That the cultural alignment with sport means that this form of gambling becomes normalised incredibly quickly as part of young men’s sporting rituals.
- That sports betting marketing is changing the way kids see sport. Seventy-five percent of kids in our research think gambling is a normal part of sport and most can name gambling brands.
What can we learn from your research that will help to prevent and reduce harm?
- That while gambling companies argue that they don’t target young people, kids are still exposed. There should be significant effort put into ensuring that ads for betting companies do not appear in programs where children make up a percentage of the viewing audience.
- Personal responsibility frameworks do little to prevent harms from sport betting. This is a product that requires significant and well thought through legislation.
- The findings from our research raise questions about whether sports betting and other gambling services should be permitted in places where the main business is the provision of alcohol.