Post A: The damage of design in Tobacco and Gambling advertising

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 Australia has the greatest prevalence of problem gambling. Photo: Carol Von Canon

Gambling is more prevalent in Australia than any other nation around the world, according to data gathered by the Queensland Statisticians office “in total Australians lost $23.7 billion on all forms of gambling in 2016-17 — pokies, lotteries, casinos, racing and sports betting. That’s $1,251 for every man and woman over the age of 18.”(Mark, 2018). In spite of our country only accounting for less than 1% of the world’s population we currently have a fifth of the world’s pokies. We also have to deal with the fact that the “industry is a major donor to lawmakers and the Coalition government, and previous attempts at reform have failed. States and territories reaped $5.8 billion in taxes from gambling in the year through June 2015” (Scott & Heath, 2016).

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Money spent on gambling last year, in US dollars. Source: Bloomberg

We have access to data showing that “the social cost of gambling to the community is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year”, there is a rise of people seeking counselling for problem gambling and we have a rise in suicides from financial issues associated with gambling (Scott & Heath, 2016). Yet there is no movement in the policies to protect people from the system which is designed to be addictive with detrimental effects to their finances as well as their mental health. We can see that in our gambling behavior “the biggest change is in sports betting, with a 15 per cent increase in the amount of money Australians lost from the previous year in that category.” (Mark, 2018). In Australia gambling advertising is loosely regulated and there is almost no restriction on the development of apps which facilitate the ease of gambling behavior, sports betting apps are being developed faster and faster and making the act of placing bets more seamless.

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Data on gambling in Australia, Source: Bloomberg

We can see that there are parallels to the tobacco problem being faced in Indonesia, the unregulated advertising and push of making the product more appealing. In spite of vast amounts of data available to the public and policy makers the government in Indonesia seems extremely hesitant to challenge and restrict big tobacco for fear of the economic repercussions. One thing that the research is revealing is that the economic benefits are in actuality limited and that the social cost will begin to outweigh the money reaped from tax paying companies (Ahsan et al, 2008). Designers need to accept that they have an impact which is tangible through the work that they choose to undertake. They can either design slicker packaging, smoother apps, big aspirational adds and sell people highly addictive vices or they can try to mitigate the damage being done by these industries which are having detrimental effects on real human lives.



Ahsan. A., Adioetomo. S., Barber. S., Setyonaluri. D. 2008. Tobacco Economics in Indonesia. Bloomberg Philanthopies.

Mark. D., 2018. World’s worst gamblers: Australia’s destructive love affair with sports betting continues to grow. ABC News. Viewed 18th December 2018.

Scott. J. & Heath. J. 2016. Gambling is killing one Australian a day, but it rakes in billions in tax. Sydney Morning Herald. Viewed 18th Dec 2018.

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