HomeAustralia and New ZealandSports betting sector proposes advertising changes amid Government stand-off

Sports betting sector proposes advertising changes amid Government stand-off

Sports betting sector proposes advertising changes amid Government stand-off

In the midst of a heated debate with the government regarding stricter regulations on gambling advertisements, the sports betting sector has offered to make significant concessions – including the removal of logos from match-day jerseys of sports teams.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is on the verge of unveiling restrictions on betting promotions across television, online platforms and outdoor advertising. She has engaged in discussions with representatives from the gambling industry, TV networks and sporting organisations.

The gambling industry has made a series of proposals. This includes the willingness to cease advertising on football jerseys and considering restrictions on radio advertisements during school pick-up times. They have also explored the possibility of adopting rules similar to those in Victoria, which prohibit promotions on billboards and near schools.

Approximately half of the clubs in the NRL maintain partnerships with bookmakers. In 2022, Swinburne University of Technology research recorded 21 partnerships across 14 elite sports in Australia. AFL clubs have distanced themselves from jersey sponsorships with betting firms, a move similarly pledged by English Premier League clubs by 2025.

The government has assessed the financial implications of a total ban on TV and digital advertising, an extreme measure that has garnered support from crossbench MPs and anti-gambling advocates.

Government officials involved in the discussions have explored a milder intervention, favoured by media companies and bookmakers, which would limit the volume and frequency of advertisements. One option being considered is restricting the number of advertisements to between one and three per hour, per TV channel. The government is also in the process of determining how these changes would apply to streaming services.

Rowland faces the challenging task of responding to heightened public frustration with advertisements, particularly those linked to sports broadcasts. She must also mitigate the potential financial impact on the NRL, AFL and broadcasters, who derive substantial revenues from marketing expenditures, primarily from foreign-owned firms.

Labor MP Peta Murphy, who chaired a significant committee inquiry, recommended a complete ban on gambling ads and promotions across all media within three years in June. She highlighted concerns about the influence of these advertisements on children and young people, referring to it as “grooming”.

“While any reforms are welcome, what the evidence clearly shows is that nothing short of a complete ban on advertising is needed to tackle the scale of this problem,” Murphy stated on Sunday.

Anti-gambling advocate Tim Costello drew parallels between the gambling debate and the tobacco industry, asserting that half-measures were ineffective, much like warnings on cigarette packages before the introduction of plain packaging.

Rowland’s spokesperson stated that the government is currently considering the recommendations of Murphy’s committee. Coalition communications spokesperson David Coleman, however, criticised Rowland for what he perceived as a delay in addressing the policy issue.

Zoe Daniel, Goldstein MP and a vocal critic of the betting industry, contended that anything less than a full ban would indicate a cosy relationship between the Albanese government and wealthy gambling companies, potentially making Rowland complicit in the matter.

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