After months of debate, the Australian Government has officially banned gambling ads during live sports broadcasts that air before 8:30 p.m. It’s all part of a broadcast reform package that’s extremely kind to broadcasters and pretty darn cruel to bookmakers.
News of the ban came on Saturday morning and will likely have a major impact on Australian and Australia-facing sports betting operators.
Under the terms of the new regulations, gambling operators would not be able to broadcast ads of any kind, including those that are formatted as sports news, from five minutes before the event starts to five minutes after the even ends or 8:30 p.m. (whichever comes first). Exceptions were made for horse, dog, and harness racing, which presumably do not appeal young, impressionable minds.
Both gambling operators and television broadcasters complained that the ban would impact their bottom lines.
While lawmakers largely ignored the complaints coming from the gaming industry, they included plenty of compensation for the networks in their 2017 Federal Budget. Not only did lawmakers remove restrictions on how many stations a single company can own, they also caught a major reduction in the price of a broadcasting license.
All of this, however, was secondary to the act of preventing gambling companies from advertising during live events. That part of the budget had Australia’s virulent anti-gambling crowd jumping for joy. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie told the Sydney Morning Herald:
We know that children are especially susceptible to advertising and hero worship and that gambling advertising has a real and measurable impact on the children who are subjected to it.
Cooler heads, including those at CalvinAyre.com and other industry focused news sites, point out that most of Australia’s problem gamblers are hooked on pokies and poker machines, not sports betting.