The Australian government’s proposal for a complete ban on betting operators advertising during live televised sports broadcasts has sparked a flurry of pushback from stakeholders.
On Wednesday, The Australian reported that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield would present a proposal next Tuesday (25) calling for a ‘siren to siren’ ban on betting ads during live TV sports broadcasts, while offering broadcasters reduced license fees to offset the expected loss of advertising revenue.
On Thursday, The Age reported that the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL) and Cricket Australia are pushing Fifield to amend his proposal to exempt betting ads in live sports broadcasts after the 8:30pm watershed. The leagues also want a guarantee that betting ads will continue to be permitted in the one-hour window immediately preceding live sports broadcasts.
In a bid to inject some sanity into this discussion, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan reportedly reminded Fifield that, despite all the hysterical media headlines, sports betting accounts for less than 5% of Australians’ overall gambling spending.
Meanwhile, Australian broadcasters are hedging their bets, claiming to want to work with the government on reducing youth exposure to betting adverts while insisting that all media platforms – including online-only sources – be subject to betting advertising limits.
Standard Media Index figures show that the gambling industry spent $216m on advertising last year, $40m of which was spent online. Television networks fear that an unfettered digital advertising environment will allow online platforms to outbid networks for media rights deals.
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted a Channel Nine spokesperson said efforts to target TV advertising “do not reflect the reality of how audiences are exposed to gambling advertising, and the sensible approach would be to include all platforms.”
Paul Andersen, CEO of Australia’s Ten network, said the proposed license fee reduction was “essential to the viability of our sector,” but this reduction “should not be seen as a tradeoff for further advertising restrictions on our platform.” Andersen is pushing for a license fee reduction regardless of what the government proposes for betting advertising.
GIBRALTAR REGULATOR URGES LICENSEES TO OBEY AUSSIE LAW
Australia’s parliament is due to resume sitting on May 9. Among the items on the agenda is the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, which seeks to formally prohibit online casino and poker gambling, as well as online in-play sports betting and credit betting. A vote on the Act isn’t expected until June or July.
A number of online casino and poker operators have already withdrawn services from the Australian market, and Nektan-powered Gibraltar-licensed Betreels Casino joined the operator exodus this week, reportedly at the urging of the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.
In an email to affiliates, Betreels announced that “in anticipation of changes in the gaming regulations in Australia, the Gibraltar gaming regulator has requested that we stop accepting players from Australia.” Betreels said it would no longer accept Australian action as of May 4.
Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner Phil Brear has since confirmed the request/edict, telling GamblingCompliance that Gibraltar licensees had been told they needed to demonstrate that they had “clear coherent advice” on their legal right to offer services in Australia. Brear further emphasized that this advice should not come from “corporate counsel.”