Aussie gambling ad spend rises; ISPs to block int’l gambling sites


australia-gambling-advertising-spendingAustralian gambling advertising rose more than one-quarter over the first seven months of 2018, despite new restrictions on sports betting operators’ ability to promote their wares on television.

According to Standard Media Index (SMI) figures reported by AdNews, gambling advertising in the year through July totaled AU$140m (US$100m), a nearly 26% rise over the same period last year. The spending rise was a full-court press, with gains reported across all major media channels.

The rise was most noticeable in the 121% rise in newspaper gambling advertising spending. The ‘other’ category posted the second-largest gain, rising 91.3%, while cinema adverts were up nearly 84%. Outdoor gambling signage improved by 60.3% and radio spending was up 43.2%, while magazines benefited the least from the ad blitz, rising a mere 5.7%.

The above gains were somewhat expected, given the Australian government’s imposition this spring of new restrictions on Aussie-licensed betting operators’ ability to advertise on local television. Yet television’s take from gambling advertising through July was up 14.7% year-on-year, suggesting operators went on an advertising binge in the final weeks leading up to the new TV rules.

SMI director Jane Ratcliffe attributed the rise to a flurry of major sporting events, including this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup. Ratcliffe noted that the overall gambling ad spending increase was even higher (30%) during the month of July, which featured the knockout rounds of World Cup action.

It should be noted that gambling wasn’t the only sector that reported double-digit advertising increases in the period through July. The domestic utilities sector’s spending was up 51.4% to AU$40.7m while banks boosted their spending by 31% to AU$174m.

The new TV ad restrictions, which bar gambling promos from running during live sports broadcasts between 5am and 8:30pm, were recently extended to the online realm.

This year has seen Australia’s telecom watchdog ratchet up its efforts to prohibit internationally licensed gambling operators who lack a local license from catering to the needs of local punters. The Aussie government is now reportedly close to a deal that would see local internet service providers (ISP) take a more active role in blocking access to unauthorized gambling operators.

Earlier this month, ComputerWorld reported that the Communications Alliance, a trade body that includes Australia’s biggest telecom providers, had given “in-principle support” to a new domain-blocking plan, the details of which will be fleshed out by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The plan, which won’t be finalized until after further consultation with telecoms and local gambling operators, reportedly stems from the government’s response to the findings of the 2018 Black Economy Taskforce Final Paper, as well as the need to put some enforcement teeth behind the online gambling legislation the government approved last year.

As things currently stand, the new enforcement plan would include ISP-delivered pop-up warnings when punters attempt to access unauthorized gambling sites. These warnings would advise punters to get their money off said sites before access is blocked by the ISP.

Telecoms have reportedly advised the government that the blocking plan will only be partially effective, given the gambling operators’ ability to launch an endless number of ‘mirror’ domains, not to mention customers’ use of virtual private networks to bypass local censors.

The ACMA has attempted to use the nation’s new gambling rules to issue warnings to international operators it deems to be violating the new rules, although only some of them have agreed to amend their allegedly wayward ways in response to these warnings.