Aussie senator now seeks to ban betting ads from radio broadcasts

australia-senator-betting-ads-radioNot satisfied with having reduced bookmaker Tom Waterhouse‘s presence in the world of televised sports, Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale (pictured right) is now looking to drive gambling ads from the radio airwaves. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Di Natale saying people “are fed up with Tom … fed up with the commentary being entangled with betting promotion … the focus has been on television … but there’s no question the same issues occur through radio broadcasts as well.” Di Natale has proposed legislation that would ban any promotion of odds during sports broadcasts, regardless of the medium.

In response to Di Natale’s broadside, industry umbrella group Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) says the senator is beating a dead horse. For one thing, the CRA says it’s a bit player in the gambling ad game, accounting for less than 9% of betting outfits’ ad budgets. More to the point, radio stations have already agreed to follow a code that bans the promotion of live odds during game play, relegating ads to before play begins or during commercial breaks. Radio stations have adopted these measures even though the code has yet to be enshrined into law by broadcasting regulators.

Di Natale recently penned an op-ed in the Herald which he lumps alcohol, tobacco and gambling into a category of things that have “the potential for harm.” Frankly, it might be easier to list things that don’t fit into that vaguely defined category. The Australian Wagering Council (AWC) – whose members include Betfair, Bet365, Betchoice (Unibet), Betstar, Sportsbet, Sportingbet/Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse – takes exception to such “grossly misleading” comparisons between betting firms and tobacco companies. When AWC CEO Chris Downy appeared before Di Natale’s inquiry into betting, sport and advertising, he pointed out that while there is no safe level of tobacco use, “the overwhelming majority of the two million Australians who bet on racing and sport online do so safely.” Some of them even do it with the radio on…