The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) is calling for enhanced consumer protection for online gambling as more sports bettors have moved online.

After examining the expansion of gambling activities across platforms and technologies, the effects on harm, and the risk of harm, the VRGF has noticed that opportunities for gambling harm through online wagering are increasing.

The foundation arrived at the conclusion by drawing on academic studies, market research and public discourse, as well as policy and regulatory responses.

The paper mentioned that gamblers began switching to mobile devices in 2008, with the COVID-19 pandemic and lengthy periods of lockdown accelerating the shift, and “significantly increased the proportion of sports bettors who gamble online”.

The group notes that the penetration rate is also increasing, as gambling product service providers can reach out to consumers directly through tech, while direct and largely unmoderated transactions have been facilitated. In this case, the ease of access to these products, together with inducements, complex offers and the availability of credit “facilitates risky betting and harmful spending”.

Cashless gambling – a hot topic in Australia – was also mentioned by the VRGF, and so-called “dark marketing”, an advertising tactic that poses a significant risk to those vulnerable to gambling harm, especially young people.