The CEO of Tabcorp, David Attenborough, has urged the Australian government to tighten limitations on gambling advertising on prime-time television.
The ASX-listed gaming group’s CEO explained why he thinks the government should alter Australia’s present advertising landscape, with a special focus on reducing betting marketing during live sporting events.
Children are more exposed to these occurrences during television coverage, according to Attenborough, who also believes that universal prohibitions on prime-time TV advertising, with the notable exception of racing networks, would provide better safety for vulnerable viewers.
Restricting wagering advertising
In a speech to a parliamentary committee, he said: “One is that they should look at restricting wagering advertising, particularly around live sporting events, between the hours of 6.30am and 8.30pm, where exposure to children is heightened. We’ve seen this done in the UK. It’s a classic way of trying to reduce the impact on the young.”
Commercials for betting and gambling items are not authorised on G-rated or lower programmes from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to current Australian advertising restrictions.
Additionally, these advertisements are prohibited from airing between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. on children’s programming, but sports broadcasts are currently exempt.
There had been no limitations on gambling advertising on sports programming until Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government placed a prohibition on betting commercials between 5 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. in 2018.
‘Siren to siren’
The regulation, known as a “siren-to-siren” prohibition, is comparable to the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) “whistle-to-whistle” policy, which prohibits any advertising or odds promotion from five minutes before the start of a match until five minutes after the event has ended, including during breaks.
Despite the new regulations, Australia’s betting and gaming business spent $271.3 million on advertising in 2020, up from $89.7 million in 2011, when there were no restrictions.
Betting ads are among the most often criticised kinds of advertising in Australia, and Reverend Tim Costello’s Alliance for Gambling Reform has long advocated for a blanket ban on gambling marketing, similar to how cigarette commercials have been banned from television.
Costello explained: “The same principles apply to gambling advertising. We would be shocked to see a tobacco ad during football and cricket these days because we know children watch these games and naturally want to emulate their heroes and support their sponsors. We must nip this in the bud right now, and the quickest and easiest way to do so is to end gambling advertising.”
Meanwhile, the online gambling industry’s trade group, Responsible Wagering Australia, has emphasised the significance of a “evidence-based nationally consistent framework,” while stating that the industry is dedicated to socially responsible marketing.
The Tabcorp CEO’s remarks come after key Australian market incumbents bet365, Sportsbet, and Ladbrokes joined him in supporting the implementation of a ban on the use of credit cards for gambling purposes in Australia.
However, Attenborough later stated that banks should be in charge of enforcing the credit card ban because they have a better understanding of consumers’ financial transactions and behaviours than gaming companies.