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Rolling the dice on a new way to rein in our problem gamblers

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During the pandemic, online gambling has surged, but the Federal Government might have a way to prevent people over-committing.

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A survey by the Australian Gambling Research Centre found one in 20 people started gambling online last year, and one in three signed up for a new betting account. Online wagering was already the fastest growing form of gambling.

Despite venue closures, and other restrictions, the proportion who gambled four or more times a week increased from 23 per cent to 32 per cent.

In an effort to prevent people losing their money, the Department of Social Services commissioned the Federal Government’s Behavioural Economics Team to test whether more visible activity statements might help promote responsible gambling.

Activity statements show bets made, wins, losses and other account transactions over a specific period. Two different statement formats were used in the trial.

The team used a purpose-built simulated gambling platform and found participants shown an activity statement reduced the amount of money they bet by up to 7.6 per cent.

“This suggests providing online gamblers with regular, clear and useful information about their gambling can strengthen informed decision-making,” the team reported, noting that moderate-risk gamblers were most influenced during the trial.

The team recommended gambling operators be required to provide monthly statements for the last six months, via email and available for download.

The trial was run under the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering and is expected to be discussed further by federal, state and territory governments.

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