Gambling Firms Accused of Mimicking Big Tobacco's Playbook

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In a recent revelation, gambling companies have come under fire, with accusations of adopting tactics reminiscent of the big tobacco industry. These tactics include funding research into the harms they cause and lobbying governments for lenient regulations.

Public Health Experts Expose Gambling Industry's Tactic

A group of public health experts from Australia, the UK, and Africa have co-authored an editorial in the journal Health Promotion International. The article draws parallels between the modus operandi of gambling companies and other industries known for health-harming products, such as tobacco and alcohol.

The experts highlight strategies like delaying gambling regulations, innovating products, targeting new markets, influencing research production, and manipulating public health responses through corporate political activities.

The editorial emphasizes the significant negative health and societal impacts of gambling. These repercussions are not limited to gamblers but extend to their families and communities. A recent study from the Victorian coroner’s court data revealed that gambling addiction contributed to 184 suicides over an eight-year span, predominantly among young men.

The article also points out the lobbying efforts of gambling companies and Responsible Wagering Australia, which have been pressuring the federal government to dilute the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling.

Debate Ignites over Funding of Sydney Research Center

In a controversial move last month, two of Australia's leading sports gambling companies, Sportsbet and Entain Australia, sponsored the establishment of a new gambling research center at the University of Sydney. This center also receives funding from the International Centre for Responsible Gaming, which counts the world's largest casinos as its sponsors. This funding decision has been criticized by various entities, including the Australian Medical Association and several MPs, who have labeled it as "tone-deaf" and "utterly appalling."

While the University of Sydney has defended its decision, stating that the research would be unbiased and based on de-identified data from gambling companies, the academics argue that such arrangements have historically been used by the gambling industry to mold public opinion and policy.

Urgent Call for Stricter Scrutiny

The article concludes with a call to action, urging entities to approach the gambling industry with the same rigor and scrutiny as the tobacco industry. This includes rejecting any research funding from the gambling industry and avoiding participation in industry-funded events.

Dr. May van Schalkwyk, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for governments to limit the influence of gambling companies on policy. She advocates for a complete overhaul in the regulation of the gambling industry to safeguard science, public health policy-making, and the general public from undue influence and harmful practices.

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