Gambling harm services claim rehabilitation ads are being blocked online
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation has reported that its advertisements are being blocked on Google while gambling ads continue to increase.
Australia.- The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) claims it has had adverts for its Gambler’s Help treatment service automatically blocked by Google. The foundation argued that its harm minimization programs are not distinguished from gambling industry offers and promotions.
A VRGF spokesperson told The Guardian: “The foundation’s concern is that people who are at risk of gambling harm are being exposed to ads that encourage them to gamble while ads for help service are being blocked. This has been an ongoing issue for years.”
The VRGF spokesperson also stated that the process for unblocking ads was lengthy and ineffective.
There were also criticisms of the TikTok platform for showing SportsBet ads despite the platform having banned gambling ads. Last year the Chinese-owned social media firm agreed to allow Sportsbet to target Australian users as part of a strictly controlled trial.
Prof Sally Gainsbury, director of the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic at the University of Sydney, stated social media is increasingly being used to reach potential gamblers and existing gamblers with highly targeted ads.
He then added: “This can be viewed as a legitimate commercial marketing strategy. However, research suggests that people who are experiencing gambling problems, who have difficulty controlling their betting, are most likely to be impacted by these sorts of ads.
“Gambling ads act as a trigger, making people think about gambling and those who are struggling controlling their gambling are most likely to gamble as a result of seeing an ad. It can be difficult to control ads on social media.”
A parliamentary inquiry into the impacts of online gambling on problem gamblers was launched late last year to assess the sufficiency of current laws, regulations, and consumer protections.