Australia Bans Gambling Ads During Sports Broadcasts

Jake Cooper | 12 May 2017

Australia Bans Gambling Ads During Sports BroadcastsWith moments to spare before he departed from the United States on 5 May 2017, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced to New York reporters that his country would be imposing a ban on gambling advertisements during broadcasted sports events. This comes as part of a sweeping media reform package, and will ban such ads during live television and radio sports programmes.

The news of the ad reforms coincides with the final stages of the Australian government’s signing of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill into law. Approved in March, this piece of legislation offers more clarity on what is and is not legal in terms of iGaming. Effectively, providing poker sites and online casinos in Australia will become illegal when the bill comes into effect.

Following the news, several operators have already left the country and others are in the process of leaving. Though heavily criticised, the government stands behind its iGaming reforms and seems to be committing to others too – including the gambling ads ban.

Aiming to Achieve a Balance

Mitch Fairfield, Australian Minister for Communications, commented by saying that the reform in broadcasting is intended to strike a balance between recognising how important gambling advertising is as a source of revenue, and how essential it is to protect vulnerable groups, including children.

In the year that ended on 30 June 2016, Australia-facing gambling operations paid A$125 million on advertisements. This is up 25% from the previously recorded year, and the trend of growing advertising and growing gambling activity in general was widely anticipated. To curb this, influential lawmakers down under have long called for gambling ad reforms during sports broadcasts.

The Specifics

The ban on gambling advertisements will be from 5 minutes before an advertisement begins to 5 minutes after it has ended, or to 8:30 pm, with no ads between. The new rules do not cover live racing, and these events are exempt from the gambling ads ban at this time. They will continue to be featured in accordance with the existing regulations.

Nick Xenophon, South Australia Senator and known opponent to gambling proliferation, commented that the pending reforms were a good start, but that more needed to be done. National leagues and teams, some of which are engaged in multi-million sponsorship deals with gambling operators, are also to be given an opportunity to weigh in on the new rules.

While it is hoped that the ban will protect children and groups vulnerable to problem gambling, it will also no doubt affect the television and radio broadcasters who so benefit from advertising gambling enterprises. The full impact of this remains to be seen.