Gambling advertising at sporting events would be phased out within three years if recommendations from a parliamentary committee are accepted, with the exception of racing channels.
Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs of the Chamber 31 recommendations how the industry should be regulated and how Australians struggling with addiction should be supported.
The “You Win Something, You Lose More” report includes the recommendations:
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, with the cooperation of the states and territories, implement a comprehensive ban on all forms of online gambling advertising, to be introduced in four phases over three years, starting immediate:
• Phase One: Ban all online gambling incentives and incentive advertising, and all online gambling advertising on social media and online platforms. Removal of the exemption for advertising online gambling during news and current affairs broadcasts. Ban on online gambling advertising on commercial radio between 8.30am and 9am and 3.30pm and 4pm (pick up and end of school).
• Phase Two: Ban all online gambling advertising and odds commentary, during and one hour before a sports broadcast. Ban all advertising in stadiums, including logos on player kits.
• Third stage: prohibition of all online gambling advertising broadcasts between 6:00 and 22:00.
• Phase Four: By the end of the third year, ban all advertising and sponsorship of online gambling.
5.149 Gambling advertising on racing channels and programming should be exempt from the ban.
ABC Reports the gambling industry spent $310 million on advertising in 2022, according to Nielsen Research.
Currently, gambling ads cannot be broadcast within 5 minutes of the start or end of a sporting event.
Some exceptions apply, including during breaks from long events such as cricket and tennis matches, but only after 8.30pm.
Committee Chair and Labor MP Peta Murphy heard evidence from AFL and the NRL particularly on their reliance on sponsorship deals with betting companies, but the committee accepted that this was a public health issue, which needed action.
He said a phased approach to ending gambling advertising would help broadcasters and sports codes find replacement revenue streams and allow betting companies to adjust to the new restrictions.
Network 10 indicated last week that it would not proceed with a Melbourne Cup bid over concerns over a growing focus on gambling by Tabcorp and the Victoria Racing Club.
The inquiry’s recommendations have already drawn a strong response from Free TV Australia, which represents free-to-air commercial broadcasters concerned about a “gut move” for a blanket ban.
The government has yet to accept the recommendations.
Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV, said: “The Committee’s proposed ban is based on a fundamentally flawed premise that the advertising market is some kind of magic pudding. But reductions in advertising revenue in the current economic and competitive environment can only translate into less funding for Australian content.
“While we appreciate that there are concerns in the community regarding the volume of gambling ads, knee-jerk moves to implement blanket bans will ultimately hurt viewers and the television services they love.
“These services are available to all Australians, no matter where they live or how much they earn, and are only possible through advertising revenue.
“Commercial television spends more than $1.5 billion each year on Australian content, providing Australian audiences with more than 25,000 hours of free reliable local news, Australian drama and entertainment, vital national emergency coverage and free, live sports annually after year.
“Many of the sports broadcasting deals were agreed beyond the three-year phase-out period for advertising.
“The government has rightly said that it will take some time to look into the commission’s report before responding. Now is the time for a thoughtful response to this important issue.
“Our industry stands ready to work constructively with the government on measures that reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and other platforms, while ensuring that the industry can continue to deliver high-quality content to all Australians.
“Measures such as frequency caps would be a better and more targeted approach to address any community concerns about advertising volume.
“This would build on current restrictions on gambling advertising, including an existing ban on gambling advertising in live sports before 8.30pm and strict limits in sports after that time.
“Any further restrictions on gambling advertising must be offset by reductions in the regulatory burden on commercial broadcasters. Specifically, by removing spectrum tariffs that are completely out of step with other countries that already abolished those tariffs decades ago,” Fair said.
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