News Corp's dedicated sports betting coverage website, CODE Bet, has faced strong criticism from Australian anti-gambling advocates that deemed the site as a "new low" due to community concerns about wagering, after a parliamentary inquiry called for ads and commentary on odds to be banned.
The CODE Bet hub is part of the digital subscription site CODE Sports, which launched in late 2021 and collates sports reporting from all News Corp mastheads and employs its own journalists.
The digital hub covers gambling content that offers detailed reports, videos, podcasts, previews, and analysis on the latest markets and "top offers" from Ladbrokes, Bet365, TopSport, and Betr. Furthermore, News Corp has a financial stake in Betr.
The hub assesses markets for Australia’s major codes and the English Premier League, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball League, and the NFL. Last week, it ran a betting preview for the AFL finals and linked to a page with bookmakers' ads.
Carol Bennett, The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Executive, said the concentration of gambling content and guides was destructive and promoted an "industry intent on generating profits by encouraging highly risky gambling."
"News Corp seems to have hit a new low in preying on those vulnerable to gambling harm in its latest venture, the CodeSports website supported by its information hub, CODE Bet," Bennett said, as reported by The Guardian.
A CODE spokesperson representative said: "We are responsible publishers and will comply with the law."
If the federal government accepts the recommendation from a parliamentary committee to ban all gambling ads within three years, as well as immediately ban inducements, the hub's business model could be significantly affected.
Angela Rintoul, who last week published a journal article confirming gambling addiction contributed to 184 suicides over eight years in Victoria, also raised concerns about the gambling content and links to bookmakers.
"The media can amplify the harm produced by gambling operators by, for instance, providing a platform to recruit customers," Rintoul said, as per The Guardian. "The media can do a lot more to protect their audience from harm."
Meanwhile, Hannah Pitt, a gambling researcher at Deakin University, said the media has helped normalize gambling, particularly for younger Australians. "Young men tell us in our research that these regular nudges to gamble make it incredibly difficult for them to stop gambling – even when they think that they are at risk," Pitt said, as reported by the above-mentioned media. "These nudges create risks by prompting them to place bets when they are trying not to engage in gambling."
The federal parliament’s standing committee on social policy and legal affairs’s report on online gambling recommends these payments be banned, which could affect the News Corp business model.