Sports betting ads and Gambling

The issue:

Community concern is becoming very high about the all-too-frequent exposure of the young to TV ads which promote gambling on sports outcomes.  Concern is focussed on the saturation of sport betting ads, and how early in the evening they are allowed. Research is finding clear links between that exposure and participation in gambling.

This concern and that research justifies strong government action on betting ads in both terrestrial and online media, up to and including an outright ban.

What’s happened:

Between 2017 and 2018, the then Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield conducted a review of the Free TV Code of Practice. In April 2018 a change to the Code was implemented. This involved Free TV sending the proposed Code revisions to the ACMA and satisfying it that the Code changes included appropriate community safeguards for the matters covered, and that the public had had adequate opportunity to contribute.

The present Free TV Code allows ads for betting or gambling:

In programs that are NOT live-to-air sports broadcasts,
The Free TV Code allows between 8.30a.m and 4pm and after 7pm, unless the program is principally directed to children and shown before 8.30pm.
However, if the program is a news, current events or sports program the above restrictions do not apply.

In programs that are live sports broadcasts,
Ads for betting or gambling are permitted after 8.30pm, provided they are shown in scheduled breaks (like quarter or half time); or more than 5 mins before start of play, or after end of play. 

The rules for streaming/online services

The rules that apply to online / streaming services have been the subject of separate legislation and a Senate review.  The Senate Committee reported on 12 February  2018 and the Bill passed both Houses (28 March). ACMA is the single, independent regulator for both broadcasters and online content service providers in relation to gambling promotional content.

The state of play as at March 2023: 

Community demand for action to limit the impact of gambling ads is increasing. The Australian public wants limits on the frequency and content of gambling ads. Recent research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and its Gambling Research Centre reveals that:

  • 64% of Australians believe that governments should play the biggest role in how wagering is advertised, with
  • 53% supporting an outright ban on wagering advertising across all platforms before 10:30pm, and
  • 47% supporting a ban across all social media platforms.

The Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has been taking submissions on online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm (including the exposure of children and young people to gambling advertising).  This Committee is still taking submissions at March 27, 2023.

What can you do?

Call for immediate government action to stop the harm, especially to the young.

You can write to the Minister for Communications who has oversight of these issues,

or your local federal member Find here.