Problem gambling

Australia: Tabcorp phases out TV gambling ads; media fights back restrictions

Reading time 2:36 min

According to submissions to a federal parliamentary inquiry into problem gamblers, Australian media is not seeking to end advertising of online gaming as commercial radio and television fear restricting advertising will cut revenue and the services they can provide.  

On the other hand, Australia’s largest gambling group, Tabcorp, says it has started to phase out gambling advertising on free-to-air television from 6:30am and 8:30pm, as “Australian families and children should be able to watch live sport and television without being bombarded by gambling advertising.”

Advertising betting products and brands online and on social media is a growing concern. It is largely beyond the reach of any one state or territory, and there should be a nationally consistent framework to regulate it,” Tabcorp submitted, as reported by AdNews.

The advertising body, AANA, has five codes that regulate advertising in Australia, including wagering advertising through the Wagering Advertising Code. Online betting businesses say that advertising is already highly regulated through the National Consumer Protection Framework. 

Commercial Radio and Audio (CRA) supports reducing problem gambling but says its industry is already comprehensively regulated under the Commercial Radio Code of Practice. 

In a submission to the federal parliamentary inquiry, CRA says any further advertising restrictions may limit the industry’s ability to provide local and national news and informative, entertaining and socially inclusive content to Australian communities. 

The radio says it relies on advertising as its only source of revenue: “The commercial radio industry creates, produces and broadcasts an enormous amount of high-quality local content that is transmitted daily by Australian commercial radio stations. This content spans a range of formats, including local and national news, talk, sport, entertainment and music,” AD News Australia reported.

Free TV says broadcasters are regulated under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, which sets out extensive restrictions on gambling advertising on broadcast television, providing protection to viewers and children. 

The AANA Codes do not make a distinction between traditional media advertising, including outdoor advertising, and digital advertising. The Wagering Code applies to all advertising for wagering products and services by licensed operators in Australia, including online advertising.

In a submission to the inquiry, it was stated that the current comprehensive framework for gambling advertising on television is "appropriate and proportionate" and that no further restrictions should be placed on commercial broadcasters. "Any further restrictions would have significant revenue implications for Australian TV networks and their ability to invest in sports; news and current affairs; and Australian content," the entry further warned.

Tabcorp says it has been a supporter of the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) for online wagering and was the first betting operator to call for further restrictions on gambling advertising.

The NCPF has delivered enhanced consumer protections and reduced the harms of online gambling; however, its effectiveness is limited without a single national betting regulator that can effectively enforce consistent regulations and consumer protections across Australia,” the company wrote. 

The patchwork quilt of state and territory regulations is up to 25 years old. This means that foreign-owned online bookmakers (foreign bookies) licensed in the Northern Territory (NT), like Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, are less regulated and pay less taxes/ fees than Australian TABs," Tabcorp added.

Online gaming platform Sportsbet says a personalized, data-driven approach is necessary to ensure the minimization of gambling-related harm and to support responsible gambling: “This approach requires a gambling operator or a provider of any gambling product to know their customer, and invest in data analytics that allow for a proper assessment of gambling behavior to facilitate targeted intervention.”

Despite a crackdown during live sport a few years ago, the industry spent AUD 271.3 million on advertising in 2020, up from AUD 89.7 million in 2011. On this matter, Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said last year the federal government needed to consider “a further crackdown on advertising where exposure to children was heightened.”

From March 2023 reforms to online advertising will be introduced including seven rotating taglines displayed across all advertising mediums.

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