Tabcorp wants to stop peak TV gambling advertising but broadcasters aren't keen
The media isn’t that keen to support an end to advertising of online gaming, according to submissions to a federal parliamentary inquiry into problem gamblers.
Commercial radio and television fear restricting advertising, other than under current rules, will cut revenue and the services they can provide.
And the peak advertising body, the AANA, has five codes which regulate advertising in Australia, including wagering advertising through the Wagering Advertising Code.
Online betting businesses say that advertising is already highly regulated through the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF).
The new federal Labor government has already started a widespread crackdown on gambling advertising.
Australians lose about $25 billion on legal forms of gambling each year, according to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Commercial Radio and Audio (CRA) supports reducing problem gambling but says its industry is already comprehensively regulated under the Commercial Radio Code of Practice.
In a submission to the federal parliamentary inquiry, CRA says any further advertising restrictions may limit the industry’s ability to provide local and national news and informative, entertaining and socially inclusive content to Australian communities.
And the radio says it relies on advertising as its only source of revenue:
“The commercial radio industry creates, produces and broadcasts an enormous amount of high quality local content that is transmitted daily by Australian commercial radio stations.
“This content spans a range of formats, including local and national news, talk, sport, entertainment and music.“
The majority of radio news outlets, unlike major players News Corp and Nine Entertainment, have not been able to strike deals with digital platforms including Google under Australia's News Media Bargaining Code.
“This makes the commercial radio industry even more dependent on advertising as a source of revenue,” says CRA.
Free TV says broadcasters are comprehensively regulated under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (the Free TV Code).
This code sets out extensive restrictions on gambling advertising on broadcast television, providing protection to viewers and in particular children.
The AANA Codes do not make a distinction between traditional media advertising, including outdoor advertising, and digital advertising.
The Wagering Code applies to all advertising for wagering products and services by licenced operators in Australia, including online advertising.
In a submission to the inquiry: “The current comprehensive framework for gambling advertising on television is appropriate and proportionate. No further restrictions should be placed on commercial broadcasters.
“Any further restrictions would have significant revenue implications for Australian TV networks and their ability to invest in sports; news and current affairs; and Australian content.
ASX-listed Tabcorp, Australia’s largest gambling group, says it has started to phase out gambling advertising on free-to-air television from 6.30am and 8.30pm.
“Australian families and children should be able to watch live sport and television without being bombarded by gambling advertising,” Tabcorp says in its submission.
“Advertising betting products and brands online and on social media is a growing concern. It is largely beyond the reach of any one state or territory, and there should be a nationally consistent framework to regulate it.”
Online gaming platform Sportsbet says a personalised, data-driven approach is necessary to ensure the minimisation of gambling-related harm and to support responsible gambling.
“This approach requires a gambling operator or a provider of any gambling product to know their customer, and invest in data analytics that allow for a proper assessment of gambling behaviour to facilitate targeted intervention.
Tabcorp says it has been a leading supporter of the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) for online wagering and was the first betting operator to call for further restrictions on gambling advertising.
“The NCPF has delivered enhanced consumer protections and reduced the harms of online gambling; however, its effectiveness is limited without a single national betting regulator that can effectively enforce consistent regulations and consumer protections across Australia.
“The patchwork quilt of state and territory regulations is up to 25 years old. This means that foreignowned online bookmakers (foreign bookies) licensed in the Northern Territory (NT), like Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, are less regulated and pay less taxes/ fees than Australian TABs.”
Online gambling company Sportsbet supports a discussion on the evolving regulatory framework governing advertising in the wagering industry.
“We believe this should be considered within the context of the benefits of advertising (including downstream sectors), understanding the existing regulatory framework, reducing harm for at risk groups and ensuring consistency across all forms of gambling (online and retail),” says Sportsbet in its submission.
“Advertising and sponsorships are important mechanisms for operators in a regulated market to identify themselves, and to provide product information and choice.
“This helps consumers find services and enhances market competition. It also provides consumers protection by directing people to licensed operators and distinguishing them from unregulated operators, who do not comply with Australian regulation.
“The revenue generated from advertising and sponsorship income provides vital economic support to the sporting, racing and media sectors, and directly sustains grassroot community funding, especially regionally.
“Online wagering advertising is already strongly regulated in Australia. Over the past ten years, the industry has undergone major transformation and a suite of measures have been introduced, particularly to protect children and young people.
Sportsbet says the regulations include: No gambling advertising or promotion of odds is allowed during play.
From March 2023 reforms to online advertising will be introduced including seven rotating taglines displayed across all advertising mediums.
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