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Anthony Albanese has said there’s no harm in Aussies having the occasional punt as his government prepares to confront problem gamblers with harder-hitting TV slogans as Carrie Bickmore calls for even harsher measures. 

The prime minister said the initiative was about ‘getting the balance right’ after Bickmore asked if the slogan campaign was doing enough to tackle the issue.

‘There’s no problem if people have the occasional punt on the Melbourne Cup or on what have you. The problem is a group of people who will become problem gamblers and that can be devastating for them,’ Mr Albanese said. 

‘So it is just really targeting that rather than saying, “All gambling” which people might choose to engage in, sometimes it can be harmless, but the fact is it can cause enormous harm at the same time.’ 

Anthony Albanese said the initiative was 'getting the balance right' after Carrie Bickmore asked if the slogan campaign was doing enough to tackle the problem

Anthony Albanese said the initiative was ‘getting the balance right’ after Carrie Bickmore asked if the slogan campaign was doing enough to tackle the problem

Bickmore pointed out that the older generation of problem gamblers had not been privy to the amount of pro-gambling advertising seen on Australian screens today. 

‘What does this next generation hold if this is what they are seeing now? Does it go far enough, what you are trying to do?’ she asked. 

‘I think we are getting the balance right – not trying to impose a complete nanny state solution, but trying to warn people that it can be an issue and to give them pause for thought,’ the prime minister replied.

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Waleed Aly asked if the government had ‘any consideration’ for limiting the amount of gambling advertising that children were soaking in while watching sport. 

‘We’ve tried to bring states and territories with us, because a lot of it is regulated by them, but also work with industry to get a solution, so we’re trying to get everyone headed in one direction rather than make it a conflict issue,’ the PM replied.

It was announced earlier on Wednesday the well-known tagline ‘gamble responsibly’ – the phrase tacked on to the end of Australian gambling ads – will be replaced with seven harder hitting slogans in a new bid to deter problem gamblers. 

Carrie Bickmore pointed out that Australia's older generation of problem gamblers had not been privy to the amount of pro-gambling advertising seen on screens today

Carrie Bickmore pointed out that Australia’s older generation of problem gamblers had not been privy to the amount of pro-gambling advertising seen on screens today

The slogans will warn Australians about the dangers of betting and include lines like: ‘Chances are you’re about to lose.’ 

The new messages will be used on TV, in print, on radio, and online to make people think about the possible consequences of their actions.

Australians have higher gambling losses than any other country on a per capita basis at $1,276 per year.

The rate of problem gambling among online gamblers in Australia is three times higher than for those who play poker machines, according to government statistics.

The strongly worded new tags will also include ‘Imagine what you could be buying instead’, ‘Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?’ and ‘What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit.’

The move will affect companies such as Bet 365, Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, along with new arrival Betr, which got into strife on Tuesday when it refused to pay out on some Melbourne Cup winning bets.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said online betting was ‘fast becoming an increasing source of gambling and an increasing source of loss for people’.

‘The Albanese Labor government is committed to harm minimisation and practical solutions when it comes to addressing problem online wagering.

Australians have higher gambling losses than any other country on a per capita basis at $1,276 per year (stock image)

Australians have higher gambling losses than any other country on a per capita basis at $1,276 per year (stock image)

‘We have consulted widely and, importantly, we have used evidence to inform these tag-lines,’ she said.

Ms Rishworth’s department sought the views of 30 regular online gamblers to help pick the most effective phrases to use.

The tag-lines were then agreed to by the Federal, state and territory governments under the National Consumer Protection Framework.

The companies who broadcast gambling messaging will have to adopt the slogans by next March. They have been asked to ensure the words for TV and radio ads must be ‘read slowly, calmly and with an even pace’. 

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