From the office of the Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide
Anglican Archbishop Jeffrey Driver has accused the Commonwealth government of gambling with the future of young Australians as it considers changes to gambling regulations.
Proposed changes to online betting laws outlined in the government’s interim report on the Review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 include the legalisation of new forms of online gambling that the Archbishop believes could create a new wave of problem gamblers.
“The proposed changes to online betting have the potential to open up more opportunities for Australians, especially young Australians, to gamble online,” Archbishop Driver said. “Young people are the most attuned to the digital revolution but also the most vulnerable to its disadvantages or dangers.”
National data indicates that 60 per cent of young people aged 15-17 years gamble, with at least 15 per cent of this group considered regular (weekly) gamblers.
Alarmingly three per cent of 15-17 year olds report signs of problem gambling – a 50 per cent higher prevalence than adults.
Under-age machine gambling and TAB gambling are becoming less common as the development of the internet, portable gaming opportunities, mobile phones and bluetooth technology develops.
“The digital age has produced a generation of technology savvy young people who engage in a variety of online activities,” Archbishop Driver said.
“The lack of distinction between what is real time and online time is contributing to the emergence of a generation of ‘risk takers’.
“Many young people hold very unrealistic views about making money from gambling, particularly if they have had an early win.
“Young people may commence gambling due to peer pressure or family experiences and expectations, but other factors can come into play that can lead to problem gambling,” the Archbishop said.
According to a Productivity Commission Report online gambling represents a greater risk to young people than venue-based gambling because without staff on-hand to check patrons’ age and identification, minors may be able to anonymously access online gambling sites.
"The younger the adolescent is when they start gambling the more likely it is they will develop problems including depression, anxiety, isolation, low self-esteem and poor academic achievement,” the Archbishop said.
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