Safer Online Sports Betting and Race Wagering

3 Nov 2023

It has never been easier to have a punt on a match or a race. As more of us are placing a bet using phones or computers, the potential for experiencing harm from gambling increases.

It’s important to protect yourself: know about safer gambling practices, know the signs of gambling harm, and know how you can access free and confidential support 24/7.

This knowledge is even more critical during events like finals seasons, the Spring Racing Carnival, and the Melbourne Cup.


Why are online sports betting and race wagering so popular in Australia?

Australians spend more on gambling than any other country, with 6.5 million (35% of the total population) Aussies gambling in a typical month.

Online gambling on sports and races, also called betting or wagering, has seen a significant increase in Australia in the past decade. The most popular forms of online gambling in Australia are purchasing lottery tickets, race wagering, and sports wagering.

According to research, 17.5% of Australians have gambled online.

The following factors encourage online sports betting and race wagering in Australia:

Advertising, sponsorships, and incentives

Nearly $300 million per year is spent on advertising by gambling providers in Australia. Studies find that two-thirds of Aussie adults believe advertising for sports and race betting is “too common” and makes gambling “seem like a normal part of sport.”

Sporting teams are often sponsored by online betting providers, further blending the relationship in people’s minds.

Online betting providers offer incentives to people who use their service, such as multi-bets, cash back, or bonus bets. However, these incentives often have terms and conditions attached.

Social norms

Gambling has become engrained in our culture, especially at sporting matches and races.

At a match, it’s not unusual to see fans shouting and cheering as they place bets online from their phones. On Melbourne Cup Day, having a gambling app on your phone may feel as essential as a fascinator hat or bow tie.

Certain situations like sport matches, race day events, and alcohol consumption may lead to peer pressure and can be triggering for those who have previously struggled with gambling harm.

Ease of access

Gambling websites and apps paired with fast internet speeds, even in more rural parts of Australia, make online gambling easier than ever to access.


What are the potential risks and harms of betting?

Sports betting is among the riskiest types of gambling. Research shows that 41% of those who regularly bet on sporting events experience gambling harm.

Even if you are just gambling for one day or on a single occasion, it is important to consider the potential risks of betting on sports and races. Gambling harm can negatively impact one’s mental health, relationships, finances, and work/study.

The potential harms of betting include:

  • Bankruptcy or financial problems
  • Developing an addictive disorder
  • Problems at work or in studies
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Thoughts of suicide.


What are the signs of gambling harm?

Especially at sporting and racing events, it’s critical to look out for the signs of gambling harm in ourselves and our mates.

Some signs of gambling harm can include:

  • Chasing losses
  • Lying about gambling
  • Arguing about gambling
  • Spending more than you can afford
  • Attempting to solve financial problems with gambling
  • Anger, worry, frustration, or other negative emotions while gambling.


Practising safer gambling

You can practise safer gambling with these tips:

  • Set time limits
  • Set spending limits
  • Take breaks during gambling activities
  • Avoid gambling with borrowed money
  • Avoid gambling under the influence of alcohol and/or substances
  • Maintain perspective – gambling is not a solution to financial problems.

You can also block yourself from accessing online wagering providers. Use a service like   to ban yourself from sports betting/wagering services for three months or more.

Alternative activities to betting and gambling

It can be triggering to be in an environment that encourages betting and wagering.

You may want to consider alternative ways you can enjoy sport matches and races, like:

  • Organising a potluck where everyone brings a dish to share
  • Engaging in friendly competitions such as best dressed or trivia
  • Giving back by donating to a charity or fundraiser instead of gambling


Seeking help and support

If your gambling or the gambling of a family member is making you uncomfortable, free and confidential support is available.

Gambling Help Queensland offers free, confidential, 24/7 support and advice from trained gambling help counsellors. We assist people who gamble, who are at risk of gambling harm, and anyone affected by someone else’s gambling.

You can confidentially talk to a counsellor or book a face-to-face session by calling the 24/7 helpline on 1800 858 858.




Contact us

If gambling is impacting your life or a loved one's life, it's okay to reach out for help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the 24/7 Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

Face-to-face counselling locations