Australia’s plan to ban TV gambling advertising during live sporting events was met with resistance from some of the country’s sports bodies who are concerned that grassroots sports will lose vital funding as a result.
Malcom Speed of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports has said that the betting ad ban will impact on the value of media rights deals which are sports greatest assets.
Betting ads are currently prohibited during children’s viewing hours but there is currently no limit to the volume of ads that can be shown during live sporting events.
That could be about to change as early as possible when a proposal to bring in a blanket ban “from siren to siren,” or from the start to the finish of games, is expected to be approved by parliament.
According to The Australian that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield presented a proposal calling for a ‘siren to siren’ ban on betting ads during live TV sports broadcasts, while offering broadcasters reduced license fees to offset the expected loss of advertising revenue.
The Age reported that the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL) and Cricket Australia are pushing Fifield to amend his proposal to exempt betting ads in live sports broadcasts after the 8:30pm watershed. The leagues also want a guarantee that betting ads will continue to be permitted in the one-hour window immediately preceding live sports broadcasts.
In a bid to inject some sanity into this discussion, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan reportedly reminded Fifield that, despite all the hysterical media headlines, sports betting accounts for less than 5% of Australians’ overall gambling spending.
Meanwhile, Australian broadcasters are hedging their bets, claiming to want to work with the government on reducing youth exposure to betting adverts while insisting that all media platforms – including online-only sources – be subject to betting advertising limits.
Online Bookies Support Ban
Strangely enough, the bookies are pretty much OK with this. Aussie betting giant Tabcorp is backing the ban, as is industry lobby group, Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), which is backed by homegrown and foreign commercial bookmakers like bet365, Betfair, CrownBet, Sportsbet and Unibet.
The RWA chief executive and the former Labor senator Stephen Conroy in an official statement said that they have long shared the community’s view that there is too much gambling advertising. RWA welcomes government consultation with the wagering industry, community groups, sporting organisations and broadcasters to achieve meaningful reductions in wagering advertising.
Australia is a competitive market where betting companies are forced to spend millions trying to out advertise one-another.
Betting industry advertising spend has increased almost three-fold from approximately $119 million in the 2011 financial year to approximately $328 million in 2015 and, for the bookies, enough is enough.
The Impact on Media Rights
As sporting bodies are hopping mad and the ban will drive bettors to offshore, unlicensed sites.the critics point out that this would not result in a reduction in gambling, but there would be a reduction in tax dollars for state and federal governments. The ban also has the potential to “rob sports of product fees,” the commission that sporting bodies make on each bet made through Australia-licensed betting companies.
Malcolm Speed, the executive director of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, which represents all of Australia’s major bodies, is also vehemently opposed to the ban.
We don’t support a ban on sports betting advertising, on the basis that it is likely to impact on media rights deals or the value of media rights, which is the sports’ greatest asset,” he said.
“We operate in a highly regulated system, where there are limits on placement of sports betting advertising. The sports have co-operated with broadcasters and the government to ban live odds during matches. So any restriction or prohibition will inevitably result in lowering investment in community and participation programs, and grassroots development.”
Australia’s parliament is due to resume sitting on May 9. Among the items on the agenda is the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, which seeks to formally prohibit online casino and poker gambling, as well as online in-play sports betting and credit betting. A vote on the Act isn’t expected until June or July.
Gibraltar Gambling Commission Urges Online Licensees to Obey Australian Law
A number of online casino and poker operators have already withdrawn services from the Australian market, and Nektan-powered Gibraltar-licensed Betreels Casino joined the operator exodus, reportedly at the urging of the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.
In an email to affiliates, Betreels announced that “in anticipation of changes in the gaming regulations in Australia, the Gibraltar gaming regulator has requested that we stop accepting players from Australia.” Betreels said it would no longer accept Australian action as of May 4.
Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner Phil Brear has since confirmed the request/edict, telling Gambling Compliance that Gibraltar licensees had been told they needed to demonstrate that they had “clear coherent advice” on their legal right to offer services in Australia. Brear further emphasized that this advice should not come from “corporate counsel.