The nation’s major sports codes, including the AFL, NRL and Cricket Australia, have joined the fight to secure controversial exemptions to the Turnbull government’s looming siren-to-siren ban on daytime gambling advertising.
In an effort to reduce children’s exposure to betting ads, the government last year announced a prohibition on gambling promotions during “all live sports broadcasts” between 5am and 8.30pm, which would take effect from five minutes before the start of play to five minutes after the final siren. Horse, harness and dog racing would be exempt from the ban.
The Coalition for Major Professional and Participation Sports fears banning gambling ads will slash the value of media rights Photo: Tertius Pickard
But Australia’s TV and radio broadcasters have been accused of trying to “water down” the ban by proposing a string of further exemptions that would exclude certain forms of betting advertising altogether and allow gambling ads to be aired every two hours during long, multi-match sports events such as the Olympics, the Rugby World Cup, golf and tennis.
Now, the industry group representing all of Australia’s major sporting codes, the Coalition for Major Professional and Participation Sports, has also thrown its support behind some of the broadcasters’ divisive proposals.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says the intention of the ad ban is clear. Photo: Fairfax Media
In a submission last month to Commercial Radio Australia, the group sought amendments that would allow broadcasters to continue naming wagering companies in sponsorship statements such as, “This event was brought to you by …”.
The submission also sought to extend proposed exemptions permitting one gambling ad every two hours during long-form sports events to include Test cricket, arguing that in a five-day Test cricket match “each day’s play constitutes a separate sporting event”.
With the rapid take-up of online sports betting in Australia, wagering companies in recent years have become major contributors to sports revenue, which the ad ban could jeopardise. Sporting codes have also raised concerns that restricting gambling advertising during live broadcasts would diminish the value of media rights.
But the push for exemptions has been widely attacked by the anti-gambling campaigners, state government bodies and the online corporate bookmakers, who say they recognise the public’s concerns about excessive gambling advertising, “particularly the volume of gambling advertising that is viewed by minors”, and believe reform is appropriate.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation said the intentions of the federal government were clear, “and the rules of the code should be, too”.
“That is, when live sport is being broadcast, parents will be able to be confident that children will not be exposed to gambling advertising and promotions,” it said.
“A day broadcasting test cricket or the Australian Open is a live sport event until there is a substantial break that has programming unrelated to the live sport.
“This is a commonsense view that constitutes a reasonable expectation of what the government policy will provide.”
A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield last month said long-form live sports events should not be excluded from the ban, and warned the government might move to implement the ban through legislation if the broadcast industry failed to appropriately amend its codes of practice.
The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports did not respond to a request for comment.