In case you were under the assumption that the South Australian Government's Gambling starts with Games campaign would slip under the radar, think again. Australia's Interactive Games & Entertainment Association has explicitly asked the government to remove all of the campaign's billboards from public display.
The billboards, claims iGEA, are in breach of the South Australian Advertising Guidelines, which state all advertising must remain accurate (and objective) when representing statistics.
The Government's own nogame.sa.gov.au website references studies that "[do] not suggest that simulated gambling precedes or follows monetary gambling":
It should be recognized that any sort of gambling during adolescence does not necessarily lead to gambling during adulthood. Although early exposure may familiarize young people with gambling, it does not always follow that involvement or interest in gambling at a younger age will be associated with subsequent gambling.
The iGEA has also requested an acknowledgement from the government - published on the SA Premier's website and on nogame.sa.gov.au - recognising the breach of guidelines and declaring that there is no evidence that suggests a causal connection between playing games (even simulated gambling games) and gambling.
From the letter to the government, iGEA explains:
In a time where the culture of playing video games has reached critical mass, with 93% of Australian households having a device for playing computer games3, such a broad and unsubstantiated attack on ‘games’ is likely to trigger unwarranted concerns amongst millions of game playing Australian families. This type of communication is also highly damaging to Australia’s interactive entertainment industry - an industry that continues to work cooperatively, respectfully, responsibly and proactively on matters of public concern including classification.
The letter also requests the SA Government's reassurance that "such inaccurate and unsubstantiated claims will not be repeated" - that's a big ask of some politicians.
We'll keep an eye on the story as it evolves - if you spot any of the Gambling starts with Games billboards around South Australia, send us a pic!
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek