Lisa Cheban | 16 February, 2023 11:19 | Last update on: 16 February, 2023 11:19
Australia is known for its strict approach when it comes to gambling adverts. Recently, ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) recommended more stringent measures on gambling ads, something Free TV Australia, the top organization for free-to-air broadcasters in the country, doesn’t take lightly.
According to the body, additional restrictions on gambling ads may result in reduced free coverage of sports. Free TV Australia claims that the extent of TV gambling adverts in the country has been blown out of proportion by some anti-gambling activists. They claim that society generally doesn’t have enough understanding of the current restrictions on gambling advertisements.
While submitting their presentation to the parliamentary inquiry investigating gambling harms, the body claimed that “the provisions of sports for free” will be more challenging to implement, thanks to the additional restrictions.
The body’s Chief Executive, Bridget Fair, told the committee that most broadcasters in Australia work in a highly competitive market. The official said that getting sports rights and their programming is costly, making it challenging to give viewers free sports coverage.
Interestingly, the country’s top body for sporting codes raised similar concerns while presenting their submissions to the parliamentary committee. The body claimed that the new restrictions would lead to decreased gambling revenue for betting businesses, meaning less money for grassroots sports development.
In recent months, the parliamentary committee has heard submissions that the current restrictions don’t protect kids from gambling exposure. As it stands, sports betting adverts between 5 am to 8.30 pm and during live games are illegal.
Dr Samantha Thomas told the inquiry that kids in Australia could recite gambling adverts and easily identify betting brands. The professor said, “Kids have a huge depth of understanding of these products, and we have to remember these products have not been around for very long,”
She continued that kids can tell specific names of celebrities who belong to gambling companies on the marketing they see. Dr Samantha is even more worried since children know the technical aspects of betting.
On their part, the ACMA advised the government to seriously consider underage exposure to betting, with almost double the number of complaints in the last financial year. ACMA’s submission to the inquiry said that the effectiveness of gambling advert rules should consider changing viewing behaviours among kids.
But Fair defended the free-to-air broadcasters, citing that the numbers presented by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation are exaggerated. The foundation claims 948 gambling ads are broadcasted daily on free-to-air TVs in the state in 2021 alone. Fair argues that the actual number is 195.
Most AFL clubs and players have criticized the excessive gambling adverts during sports broadcasts. They feel that the adverts may harm children.