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Gambling, Mental Health

Gambling reforms a winner, say mental health advocates

Lived Experience Australia 3 mins read

Leading mental health advocacy organisation, Lived Experience Australia (LEA), has today welcomed the work of the parliamentary committee shining a spotlight on the significant harms from gambling related to sporting events.

Committee Chair, Labor MP Peta Murphy, has called for the federal government to phase in a ban on all gambling advertising during sporting events over a period of three years. LEA is strongly in support of all 31 recommendations made in the report, with the aim of reducing the harm caused by gambling, leading to mental health concerns.

LEA Executive Director, Prof Sharon Lawn, has a particular commitment to advocacy in recognising the enormous harms caused by of all forms of gambling on mental health, families, and communities. Today she spoke about these concerns: “The advertising around sports betting is particularly concerning because it deliberately targets young people, particularly young men, normalising gambling among peer groups. It taps into their digital world and further normalises gambling, rapidly establishing addictive behaviours around what should otherwise be enjoyable social connections around sports.”

Labor MP Peta Murphy voiced similar concerns to reporters: "There's a concern that we are producing, if we haven't already produced, another generation of Australians who see sport and betting as intrinsically linked, and sport almost as a vehicle for which betting can occur."

Problem gambling can involve significant shame and stigma for the person, and for their families, which keeps it hidden. One lived experience submission to the inquiry stated:

“Since the age of 16, gambling has plagued my life with misery, financial turmoil, emotional distress, and profoundly affected my mental health and day to day life.”

Support for those who experience gambling harm addresses only the tip of a very large iceberg as many people do not seek help until they are in significant distress, or suicidal, because of the financial losses incurred.

Affecting more than just the gamblers

The 2010 Productivity Commission reported that ‘For every person with a gambling problem, it is estimated that 5 to 10 others such as partners and children are also adversely affected’. This would suggest that up to five million Australians (1 in 5) experience the emotional, social, and financial stress caused by gambling. With the growth in online sports betting, these impacts may well have grown.

Professor Lawn continued: “We also know that people are not routinely asked whether they have problems with gambling. It is largely left to the individual to be responsible, but clearly gambling is a community responsibility and addressing it requires stronger national public policy. We therefore urge federal and state governments to do more to address the harms from all forms of gambling.”

LEA appreciates the work of the Parliamentary Committee for facilitating this thoughtful report and its recommendations, and commends the ABC political reporters Mark Doran and Kamin Gock for highlighting this important issue. We particularly want to note and thank those who shared their lived experience of gambling harm, so that we can learn from them to make things better for the future. 




Key Facts:

Australians lose $25billion every year gambling (Australian Gambling Research Centre)

67% of people who gambled on sports are at risk of gambling harm (AGRC)

Gambling is associated with an approximately four times higher risk of suicide (Australian Psychological Society)

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About us:

Lived Experience Australia Ltd is a national representative organisation for Australian mental health consumers and carers, formed in 2002 with a focus on the private sector. All members of our Board and staff have mental health lived experience as either a consumer, family carer, or both. The organisation advocates for systemic change to improve mental health care across the whole Australian health system. For information about our work, visit

Contact details:

Professor Sharon Lawn

Executive Director, Lived Experience Australia

0459 098 772

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