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Enough is enough. Will you sign our letter to the PM?

Family watching TV
“Come on kids, shall we have a punt on the footy?”

Dear Prime Minister Gillard,

We’re writing to you because we want to see change when it comes to gambling and sport.

We’re writing to you about live odds, about televised betting advertisements, and about punter’s updates.

We’re writing to you because we don’t understand how gambling is allowed in TV programs that are rated PG and are watched by children.

We’re writing to you because we fear that we’re creating a generation that automatically associates sport with gambling.

We’re writing to you because we want it to stop. We’re writing to you because we know you agree AND that you have the power to do something about it.

You said on the ABC’s Q and A program earlier this month that: “I would have to say, as someone who watches sport, it drives me absolutely nuts.”

You said that “Too many of our kids actually view sport through the prism of the odds and the betting, instead of viewing sport as to what is happening on the field and who is doing what and who is exhibiting great skill and who is falling behind.”

You said that you were “very concerned about it”.

Well, so are we.

Kids are connecting gambling and sport in their minds.
A generation that automatically associates sport with gambling?
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Australia has the highest rate of gambling in the world. That’s not something to be proud of – that’s something we should be determined to change. Because while many in our community do gamble responsibly, many do not.

According to your own Government’s website, problem gamblers lose on average $21,000 a year, which is a third of the average Australian’s yearly salary.

That’s money flowing out of the pockets of families who need it – families who have electricity bills, school uniforms and petrol to pay for – and into the pockets of bookies.

Problem gambling has the potential to ruin lives. Not just of the problem gambler themselves but of their partner, their parents, their friends and their kids. And yet we are allowing our country’s favourite national pastime – cheering on our team at the footy or cricket – to be taken over by gambling.

That means that those of us who love to watch sport and just want to enjoy a game, are instead being bombarded with live updates on the odds. It means that when our kids turn off the NRL or the AFL on their TV and head outside to kick a footy, the concepts of sport and gambling become intertwined in their vulnerable minds.

Sporting leagues now have official 'betting partners'.
Sporting leagues now have official ‘betting partners’.
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The increasing interconnectedness of sport and gambling on our TV screens sends a message to the Australian public – young and old – that you can’t enjoy the game without having a punt.

And that is incredibly dangerous. Not just socially, but economically.

Problem gambling comes at an estimated social cost to Australian society of $4.7 billion a year.

Just think of all the good that money could potentially do.

It could fund a year’s worth of the child care rebate or the new Disability Care scheme. Or, it could fund the first 2 years of your plan for school improvement, with enough left over increase your government’s investment in reducing violence against women 10 fold.

And yet every day we are risking that $4.7 billion figure rising, as gambling further infiltrates the sport on TV that Australians love to watch.

As sports columnist Peter Fitzsimons wrote for Fairfax yesterday:

Sports columnist, Peter Fitzsimons
Sports columnist, Peter Fitzsimons

Next Tuesday, the ALP MP for Throsby, Stephen Jones, will put a motion before caucus proposing a bill to remove the ludicrous loophole that allows advertising of gambling on TV during the PG classification period, when the broadcast is to do with sport.

Jones’ preference is that this bill is dealt with as government legislation, not a private member’s bill… The House of Reps has 16 sitting days left this session but the Senate only eight. It is possible.

Ms Gillard, we are writing to you as spectators, as volunteers, as coaches, as players and as parents and our message is simple: Please help us get gambling off our TV screens and away from Australian sport for good.

Kind regards,

The readers of Mamamia.com.au

Mamamia will be sending this letter to the Prime Minister's Office on Friday 24 May. If you would like to put your name to the letter, please fill out the short form below.
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