South Australia to require tobacco style warnings on betting ads

TAGs: Australia, independent gambling authority, south australia

south-australia-tobacco-warnings-gambling-adsRight on schedule, South Australia’s new ban on live-odds betting promotion took effect on Thursday. The controversial measure prohibits the promotion of live-odds during sports broadcasts on radio, television and via stadium displays. Broadcasting is the responsibility of the federal Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) while gambling is a state issue, so South Australia’s Independent Gambling Authority (IGA) has made bookies liable for fines of $10k if they violate the new code, with repeat offenders on the hook for $100k and possible revocation of their bookmaking privileges in the state.

The IGA isn’t stopping there. The clampdown’s phase two, due to take effect in December, involves gambling ads aired during non-sports television programming. A full quarter of the TV screen is to be dedicated to anti-gambling warnings that some are already comparing to those found on cigarette packaging. (Sample message: “Think of the people who need your support.”) These written warnings must be onscreen for at least one-sixth of the ad’s duration, but at least there’s no requirement (yet) to visually depict children living in Dickensian squalor because Dad bet his money on the bob-tailed nag.

Radio ads will include similar messages, which must be read “in a serious tone.” Stadium displays will also have to devote a quarter of their pixels to the cause, while billboards get off lightly with just 10% of their acreage required to be in message mode. Even betting logos on player uniforms won’t be spared, with an accompanying responsible gambling message required to be at least half the size of the logo itself. (Bookies with deeper pockets can avoid the latter edict by agreeing to underwrite anti-gambling ads in other media.)

IGA director Robert Chappell told The Advertiser that the government was sorry to be so “prescriptive” but they were fed up with bookies quibbling over definitions. To eliminate future hair-splitting, Chappell said “there’s going to be page after page in this new code” on the specifics of sticking on the straight and narrow path. South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill also revealed that social gaming was next on the hit-list, saying he wants to “explore the legal and policy implications for the government of gambling-like behaviour among children.” Weatherill plans to survey parents and ‘experts’ on social gaming to determine “the real impact this is having on children.”

Meanwhile, the ACMA has released its new code on live odds promotion for the nation’s broadcasters, as ordered this May by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. (Gillard was replaced in June by Kevin Rudd after losing a Labor party leadership vote.) The TV networks had already signed off on the new code, which prohibits live-odds promotion during sports play and also bars commentators and their guests from engaging in odds promotion in the 30 minutes before and after a match. Generic gambling ads are allowed, but only during scheduled breaks in play.

Gillard’s administration was more or less compelled to introduce the changes after an almighty kerfuffle ensued over young Tom Waterhouse’s onscreen odds-pimping during National Rugby League broadcasts, for which Tom felt compelled to apologize to the nation for, er… being Tom Waterhouse. The ACMA says it will review the effectiveness of the new broadcast restrictions following the end of the summer sports season, during which time it will “gather evidence about prevailing community standards.”


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