Aussie Government Proposes Tough New Gambling Advertising Restrictions

Advertisements that promote gambling are a mainstay of Australian sports broadcasting but they could be a thing of the past if a new proposal from the country’s Communication Minister becomes law.

Earlier this week, Aussie Communications Minister Mitch Fifield announced that he would be presenting a tough, new proposal that would ban all advertising for sports betting and gambling during live sports broadcasts.

Fifield’s announcement came as something of a surprise to Australia’s gambling industry, but the Cabinet is expected to approve his proposal.

To say that a “siren to siren” ban on gambling ads would impact Aussie sportsbooks is something of an understatement. After all, live odds betting and its high volume live advertising bring in big bucks to the Down Under gambling industry.

But bookmakers aren’t the only businesses that would be impacted by the advertising ban, Australian broadcasters would be taking a huge revenue hit, too. To help offset the loss of gambling ad cash, Fifield is also proposing a reduction in licensing fees for impacted broadcasters.

Australia’s professional sports leagues and clubs were not, however, offered similar concessions. Organizations from Australia Rules Football clubs to cricket teams criticized the proposal saying it would reduce the value of their media rights agreements.

In an interview with the Australian newspaper (subscription required), Malcolm Speed, exec director of the Coalition of Major Professional Participation Sports said the new rules would:

…inevitably result in lowering investment in community and participation programs, and grassroots development.

Gambling ads during live sports broadcasts have long been a flashpoint for Australia’s very active anti-gambling community and strict restrictions on this type of advertising were implemented last year. Gambling industry trade groups warn that a ban of this sort will cause huge tax revenue reductions for the government, but do support more modest regulations.