Betting and horse racing go hand in hand but parents are being urged to use Melbourne Cup day to talk with their kids about the risks of gambling.
Melbourne researchers have found children as young as eight can reel off the names of multiple bookmakers.
Kids are aware of promotions too, noticing – and misinterpreting – offers such as “cash back” or “cash out” features.
“The promotions create a perception that gambling is risk-free and that you can’t lose,” Deakin University public health expert Samantha Thomas told AAP on Monday.
“But that’s obviously not the case.”
Associate Professor Thomas suggests parents discuss the goal of gambling advertising.
“Often parents are not aware of the extent to which kids are taking in or soaking up the marketing they see,” she said.
“That’s why we think it is important for them to ask how aware they are of the marketing and start discussions from that.”
Asoc Prof Thomas suggests three conversation topics:
* Ask children if they can name gambling companies or any ads for gambling and then remind them the marketing is designed to make profits for a business;
* Encourage critical thinking about advertising and how that influences their perception of gambling;
* Tell kids that gambling is a risky activity and that skill or knowledge can’t guarantee a win.
Asoc Prof Thomas recently published a research paper funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation that found wagering had become embedded in adolescents’ narratives about sport.
And the Australian Psychological Society (APS) says advertising has made gambling appear a normal part of enjoying sport – paving the way for a new generation of problem gamblers.
APS executive director Professor Lyn Littlefield says using high profile personalities like actor Samuel L Jackson, former Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting and former AFL player Ben Dixon to promote gambling in Australia entices young people.
“When they see their heroes promoting gambling they are more likely to see gambling as a socially acceptable, even desirable, activity, ” Prof Littlefield said.
Sport matches and programs are exempt from government rules that ban betting ads on TV during children’s viewing hours of 4pm to 7pm.