SPORT and online gambling are now so intrinsically linked that the integrity of sports is under extreme pressure and the human toll is rising.

“In addition to the rapid acceleration of availability of online gambling and the range of ‘events’ to be gambled on, it is estimated that about 90 per cent of online gambling is through illegal gambling providers, many operating on the ‘dark web’ and through ‘black markets’” said Mark Henley, Manager of Advocacy for Uniting Communities.

Tonight’s ABC story on 4 Corners about online sports betting, with a focus on tennis again highlights the very real issues that we now confront.

Online gambling is a threat that can be dealt with if we act early. The immediate priority must be for the Commonwealth Government to establish a national online gambling regulator to reign in the threat of gambling harm to individuals, their families and our sporting codes,” said Mark Zirnsak, social justice spokesperson for the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania. “The Federal Government needs to crack down on the saturation and predatory marketing activities of online betting companies and put an end to credit betting. It is bad enough that people can lose everything they have with online gambling, credit betting means they can end up in crippling debts even after losing everything.”

The other critical area for action is that our sporting administrators must take the threat of online gambling seriously and strengthen all aspects of game integrity, including ongoing external advice and review. Sport administrators can no longer keep everything ‘in-house.’

Our Australian Government also needs to be actively discussing online gambling regulation with other nations and ensuring that protocols are in place to share information and to establish an international set of consumer protections that are applied globally.

The platform for online sports betting is the smart phone: 3.2 billion people are now connected to the internet. By last year’s end there were more than 7 billion mobile cellular subscriptions globally. Most people on planet Earth now carry a 24/7 casino in their pocket. Online betting companies have also worked very hard to significantly increase the number of ‘events’ that can be gambled on during any sporting contest, so that it is possible to bet, in real-time, on just about every serve, ball bowled or goal attempt during a game.

For Comment

Mark Henley     Uniting Communities  0404 067 011
Mark Zirnsak     Social Justice, Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania  0409 166 915