Australian bookmaker Tabcorp says it will appeal a broadcast regulator’s ruling that banned a Tabcorp television commercial for displaying “excessive participation” in gambling activities.
Earlier this month, Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) ruled that a Tabcorp TV spot that aired in October had contravened Section 2.8 of the AANA Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communications Code, which says gambling marketing pitches “must not portray, condone or encourage excessive participation in wagering activities.”
The advert in question featured a man returning home from a vacation, upon which his girlfriend asks him how it went. The man then flashes back to a camping/fishing trip with a few mates who spend the whole trip using the TAB app on their mobiles studying betting odds and watching live racing broadcasts. The man responds to the woman’s question by saying only: “Yeah… loved it.”
The ASB received numerous complaints about the ad, some suggesting that the men had spent their entire weekend gambling, then lying about it to their spouses, while other complaints claimed the ad glorified gambling.
Tabcorp rejected allegations that the spot depicted “a problem gambler concealing his gambling from his family.” Tabcorp pointed out that the male character’s phrase “Yeah… loved it.” contained no suggestion that the man was “attempting to hide or disguise anything from his partner.”
Tabcorp said the ad was intended to promote the variety of TAB racing action “in a lighthearted and humorous manner and to depict the enjoyment that many Australians derive from using the racing Form and watching racing vision on their phone.” Tabcorp also pointed out that the ad contains “no direct portrayal of the male characters actually gambling or wagering.”
The ASB rejected this last argument, saying there was no definition of a wagering ‘activity’ and thus the depiction of the men in the ad could be “reasonably interpreted as being engaged in a wagering activity.”
As for whether said wagering was excessive, a majority of the ASB panel said the fact that the men in the ad appeared oblivious to fish jumping out of the water and food burning on the barbecue, then continued to watch racing results at night in their sleeping bags, suggested that “the wagering takes priority in all aspects of the men’s weekend.”
The ASB rejected complaints that the man in the ad appeared to have lied to his partner and thus the ad didn’t depict material “contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.” The ASB also cleared Tabcorp of strongly condoning or encouraging excessive participation in wagering activities, but found them guilty of portraying excessive participation.
Tabcorp disagreed with the ASB’s conclusion, and said it will seek an independent review. Regardless, Tabcorp says the ad isn’t currently airing on either free-to-air or pay-TV and the company won’t re-air the spot until its independent review is concluded.