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Gambling taught in schools despite calls for less betting ads

Gambling taught in Victorian schools

The Victorian state government is allowing gambling to be taught in schools but is lobbying for gambling advertisements to be removed.

Parliament has recently blamed gambling advertisements broadcast on television for teaching children how to bet, but it appears teachers could be to blame too.

Several Victorian schools have been found teaching students in years 10 to 12 the probability and statistics of winning when betting on sports, entering sweeps, and spending a “day at the races”.

Lessons, which were developed by the Mathematical Association of Victoria and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, see students betting with cards against the teacher who is the dealer. Others use play money to wager on Melbourne Cup and sporting events.

While the program, which was approved by Victorian government as an optional program for mathematics teachers, was created to show the levels of risk involved with gambling, experts fear it could instead introduce susceptible minds to betting.

It also allows for children to actively engage in gambling, unlike the betting advertisements broadcast on the television.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Dr Charles Livingstone has said he is supportive of the lessons, but they are “potentially harmful.”

“Gambling is not an entirely rational exercise and anything that could encourage an unrealistic view of outcomes is potentially unhelpful,” he said.

“There is definitely a place for providing students with accurate information about how commercial gambling works.

“However, it’s very important to get the information right.”

Hughesdale mum of a year 11 boy, Ellie Hynes, said students should be taught about the harmful effects of gambling, but not through a program which potentially promotes it.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives discussed the impact of gambling, including the effects gambling advertisements have on children.

Member for Isaacs, Victoria, Mark Dreyfus, spoke about the impacts gambling advertisements have on children but made no mention of this program, despite its introduction last year.

A Department of Education spokesman has refuted claims the lessons are harmful, suggesting they allow students to question the normalisation of gambling instead.

“A number of Victorian schools have already started using them, and we support others to do so if they believe they would be beneficial for their students,” he said.

A Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation spokeswoman said the program combats children being exposed to gambling, but failed to address the prevalent problem of children actively gambling.

“Young people are being exposed to gambling more than ever through saturation advertising, promotion in sport, social media and digital games, and it’s critical they understand the risks.”

World Vision CEO and spokesperson for anti-gambling campaigns, Tim Costello, hasn’t commented on the program but has said he is frequently approached by parents who find gambling ads are constantly shown while their kids are watching television.

“I have never seen such rage from parents on an issue,” he said.

“Sports betting has entered that sacred zone of parents feeling like they can’t protect their kids.”

“So many parents have approached us to say they’re appalled with their kids talking about the odds of a game rather than the game itself,” Anti-gambling campaigner, Senator Nick Xenophon said.

Our opinion – Does this school program contradict politicians’ anti-gambling campaign?

The debate before the House of Representatives earlier this month saw many members detail the dangerous impacts gambling advertising has on children. Many Victorian MPs agreed with this stance.

But when it comes to this program, which the Victorian state government has approved, it seems to say children should be exposed and learn the risks. Isn’t this contradictory?

Although the amendment to reduce gambling advertising failed before the House, the Senate will debate the issue next month.

Gambling advertisements are banned during G-rated programs from 6am to 8:30am and between 4pm and 7 pm, under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

But sporting events are the exception, which is why they have recently come under fire – many events have seen the broadcasting of Sportsbet ads during the hours which they’re normally banned.

But parents have more control if they know sporting matches will broadcast gambling ads – they can change the channel during ads. They can’t control what a teacher is teaching the kids in a classroom, which shows politicians have been misguided when it comes to gambling issues in association to children.

Gambling ads also don’t allow for the child to participate in gambling, whereas this program does and not all children will learn the intended message – they could even get a taste for it as young at 15 or 16 through these lessons.

If these lessons do educate children on potential risks, why can’t a similar program be introduced on the home front by parents?

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ken wolfe
ken wolfe
7 years ago

I am appalled about the basic lack of knowledge regarding compulsive / addicted gambling. Break it down to basics, why, initially do people gamble, to obtain a second income, easy money, don’t have to work, live off the punt, win enough to live the lifestyle with no effort on my part. This program is nothing more than a skills program to that end.

I was a compulsive gambler for 30 years, this program is a a teaser for the real thing and has no place being put into the minds of vulnerable adolescents where money and the sourcing of money is paramount.

P.s The page this is on has sportbetting advertising down one complete side….My point exactly.

Until we get fair dinkum and prepare our youth for the things they will be confronted with such as gambling in a real and honest sense, then the issues will get worse and worse and more people will suffer.

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