A coalition of Australian media groups is working feverishly to water down the impact of their country’s broad new ban on gambling advertisements during sports broadcasts. Their efforts to protect advertising revenue from a “siren-to-siren” advertising ban are meeting with objections both from anti-gambling forces and the gambling industry itself.

At issue is a proposed draft of advertising standards being pushed by media groups including Free TV Australia (FTA), Commercial Radio Australia and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA). These new standards include a number of sly workarounds to the government advertising ban such as an exemption for what they’re calling “low audience” channels. This exemption would be applied to obscure cable channels like ESPN.

Broadcasters are also pushing for a break for lottery advertising. Their reasoning is that the original ban was aimed at sports betting advertisements, not lottery advertisements, including ads from Lottoland.

The proposed changes are turning out to be a real affront to the anti-gambling forces that pushed for the changes in the first place. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Mark Zirnsak, of the Victorian Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce spelled out his side’s argument on the matter saying:

What shocked me is that these bodies governing TV and radio are actually using this as an opportunity to water down the code. What shocked me is that these bodies governing TV and radio are actually using this as an opportunity to water down the code.

On the other side of the coin, trade groups representing online gambling operators are fuming about the proposed lottery exemption saying that it gives operators like Lottoland an unfair advantage.

As of this writing, all sides in the matter are still working on proposals and no final decisions have been made.


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