Australia’s government has confirmed plans to ban gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts before 8:30pm.
Last month, broadcasters and betting operators expressed opposition to reports that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield was preparing new restrictions on gambling advertising. Fifield has now confirmed that these changes will be incorporated into next week’s federal budget and will take effect in March 2018.
The changes will prohibit gambling adverts during live sports broadcasts – be they on television, radio or streamed online – that air before the traditional ‘mature audience’ watershed of 8:30pm. The ban will apply starting five minutes before a live sports event begins and will last until five minutes after the match finishes, or until 8:30pm, whichever comes sooner.
Fifield insists that the ban will ensure “a clear and practical zone for families and children to watch live sport.” Tellingly, the ban retains the existing exemptions for lotteries and race betting operators, because no child has ever grown up to become a race betting or lottery addict.
To assuage broadcasters’ concerns over the loss of gambling advertising revenue, the government will abolish annual broadcast license fees. Given the modern fractured media environment, Fifield called the fees “a relic of a bygone age of regulation.” Unlike, say, nanny state distinctions between betting on horses vs. betting on people.
As for the nation’s bookmakers, well, they get squat to compensate them for the loss of their ability to promote their products during the actual events on which much of their business model relies.
The advertising restriction is but the latest indignity recently foisted on Australia’s betting industry, including bans on wagering on credit and offering sign-up bonuses, as well as stricter enforcement of existing bans on online in-play betting, poker and casino products. And that’s not even counting the proposed national point-of-consumption tax, a state-level version of which is set to take effect in South Australia on July 1.
The current hysteria over the alleged explosion in betting activity must have Australia’s video poker (pokies) machine operators laughing themselves to sleep, given that the pokies industry is far more responsible for problem gambling activity than betting, yet it continues to fly under legislators’ radar. Perhaps the betting industry ought to develop their own pokie machine that replaces the game icons with images of betting lightning rod Tom Waterhouse, then sit back and enjoy the ensuing outrage.