Radio and TV broadcasters dismiss Labor's 'unwarranted' gambling ad ban

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 9 February 2017

TV and radio industry bodies have hit out at Labor's failed attempts to ban sports betting advertising during live sports broadcasts.

Yesterday, the opposition communications minister Mark Dreyfus tabled an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Bill to ban betting commercials during live sports on TV and radio, potentially shutting off a huge revenue stream to broadcasters and sports administrators.

Last year, AdNews revealed that gambling was the fastest growing category of advertising over the past five years.
The move was voted down with Human Rights Minister Alan Tudge pointing out that the proposal would mean broadcasters wouldn't be able to show live odds during a broadcast of the Melbourne Cup.

Free TV, which represents commercial broadcasters Seven, Nine and Ten, rejected the proposals as 'unwarranted'.
“Commercial broadcasters already have the most comprehensive, targeted set of restrictions on the promotion of betting services of any media platform in Australia,” CEO Brett Savill says.

Commercial Radio Australia described the move as “unnecessary and counterproductive”.

“There has been no consultation with the industry,” CEO Joan Warner says. “Advertising around sports broadcasting is already heavily regulated through the Live Odds Code which was introduced in 2013.

“The industry worked closely with ACMA to develop the codes to ensure they met community expectations. Given there have been no complaints on this topic, any further restrictions cannot be justified.”

The current laws restrict the promotion of live odds during play as well as by commentators and guests for 30 minute before and after play.

Betting companies are allowed to advertise up to 10% of advertising content during a live sports broadcast. There are also not restrictions on in-ground advertising and for betting shops to sponsor team jerseys, which has some experts concerned about betting becoming normalised in sport.

Samantha Thomas, an associate professor at Deakin University, is an authority on the effects of gambling advertising on children.

Last year she told AdNews that groups of children she studied are able to recall gambling messages that de-risk the activity and consider gambling to be a normal part of sport.

However, opponents of the ban argue the measures unfairly punish traditional media while leaving digital free to circumvent the laws.

They also argue that punishing regulated betting companies will only drive gambling activity towards unregulated international players with no regard for Australian law.

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