Lisa Cheban | 24 July, 2023 10:38 | Last update on: 24 July, 2023 10:38
On Wednesday, July 28, 2023, the long-anticipated parliamentary inquiry report on the effects of gambling ads was released. In the report, the committee recommended a 3-year timeframe to implement a total ban on gambling ads (from Australian online casinos) across all media. Instead of proposing a comprehensive ban, the committee called for a phased approach, advising the government to ban the ads one hour before and after live sports coverage.
But although the plan to ban the ads within three years has already come under fire from TV and betting industries, the crossbench has urged the government to implement the ban swiftly. Greens and independents have called on the government to phase out the gambling ads within 12 months. The independent MPs supporting this proposal include Rebekha Sharkie, Zoe Daniel, and Andrew Wilkie.
Sarah Hanson-Young of the Green Party has expressed worry that the government is not committed to implementing the proposals immediately. This is after Labor only pledged to take them into consideration, with consultations still ongoing.
She commented: “Gambling ads should be banned by footy finals time. Three years is too long. It means three more years of gambling ads fuelling addiction, wrecking lives and affecting children.”
Zoe Daniel supported Hanson’s reservations saying the timeframe will give gambling giants and other interested parties enough time to mobilize and water down the proposals. He says this might end up diluting the government’s willingness to act on the recommendations.
She said: “Given the committee has acknowledged the extent of the problem, the government should act now and ban all gambling advertising wherever it appears as soon as legislatively possible.”
Kneejerk Response that Will Ultimately Hurt Viewers
Following the recommended ban, everyone has been expecting Free TV Australia to air its opposition, and the body hasn’t disappointed. Through its chief executive, Bridget Fair, the organization has cautioned the committee against a taking “kneejerk” reaction that will ultimately hurt viewers in the country and the TV services they love. She warned that the body is considering discontinuing the free sports broadcasts if the government implements the ban.
Instead, Fair has advised the government to take measures like frequency caps and a more targeted approach in response to community concerns regarding the volume of gambling advertising.
She added: “Any further restrictions on gambling advertising must be offset by reductions in the regulatory burdens on commercial broadcasters. In particular, removing spectrum fees, which are completely out of step with other countries that have already abolished such fees decades ago.”
CEO of Responsible Wagering Australia, Kai Cantwell, has backed Free TV Australia by asserting that the marketing ban is “shortsighted [and] ineffective.” The CEO cautioned that the ban might lead Australians to illegal offshore markets and water down any progress the government has achieved.
Interestingly, Sportsbet, a leading supplier of gambling services, has already backed proposals like criminalizing commissions and mandating data-led intervention. However, the operator has cautioned that the ad ban was excessive.
Sportsbet’s CEO, Barni Evans, said: “It is important that any changes in regulation recognise that gambling is a lawful form of entertainment enjoyed responsibly by millions of Australians.”