Betting ads that target minors banned under new code

Betting ads that show drinking while gambling will be in breach of the new code.

Gambling ads cannot target minors, show people placing a bet while drinking, or link gambling with "sexual success or enhanced attractiveness" under new guidelines released today.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) released the Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communication Code to ensure advertisers and marketers maintain socially responsible ads on wagering products and services.

It applies to all forms of wagering - horse racing, harness racing, greyhound racing and sports events - offered by betting companies licensed to operate in Australia. The code does not apply to casinos, pokies, lottery products or other forms of gaming. 

Wagering advertising has come under public pressure in recent months with opponents claiming ads during sports events expose vulnerable young people to gambling. The Australian Greens are planning to introduce a bill that would ban wagering ads during sports broadcasts while independent senator Nick Xenophon has been a vocal critic and is campaigning for reform.

A recent government probe into the sector released recommendations to tackle illegal offshore betting agencies, but didn't address the role of advertising.

The new code provides guidelines for advertisers to ensure the content doesn't target minors and problem gamblers.

Advertisers cannot create ads that are "directed primarily to minors" the code says. This prohibits the use of visual techniques, young actors, cartoons, super heroes and other elements that would "engage and resonate with minors in way to bring about a response or action" that leads to gambling.

Ads that glorify gambling, according to the code, imply that gambling will lead to riches, and project an image that gambling will make you more attractive also risk breaching the code.

Many gambling ads in the past have used the tried and tested formula of depicting men being revered by mates after backing a winner. It's unclear whether this narrative would fall foul of the code as it says operators should "take care" when characters are treated with admiration as a result of wagering.

Ads that show people drinking while placing also sit outside the code, but it's ok to have people drinking within the ads provided they are not betting.

“Responsible, respected and innovative marketing is at the heart of what the AANA stands for and the new wagering code builds on a self-regulatory system which helps ensure that advertisers are aware of their commitment to the community and accountable to the community for how they communicate their products and services,” AANA director of policy and regulatory affairs Simone Brandon said in a statement. 

Effective from 1 July, the code was developed following an open public consultation process and drawing on input from the wagering sector, governmental organisations and regulators, media and academics. It is designed to complement existing legislative, regulatory and self-regulatory framework. 

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