An Australian parliamentary committee has released the ‘You win some, you lose more’ report. The report was produced as part of the committee’s inquiry into online gambling and its impact on those experiencing gambling harm.
The report follows recent changes to address gambling harms, including a commitment to ban credit cards for online gambling and the implementation of new taglines to replace ‘gamble responsibly’. The report has important implications for the sports and media industries.
The current regulatory framework for online gambling includes over 60 pieces of Commonwealth, state and territory legislation and several industry codes of practice.
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (BSA) regulates broadcast and online advertising and requires broadcasting services, such as commercial television and radio, to develop industry codes of practice. Relevant industry codes of practice include the:
- Subscription Broadcast Television Code of Practice 2013 (applies to subscription television services);
- Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2015 (applies to free-to-air TV); and
- Broadcasting Services (Online Content Service Provider Rules) 2018 (applies to online streaming services).
These industry codes of practice include rules that prohibit gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts between 5am until 8.30pm, and for five minutes before the start of play and five minutes after play has concluded.
The current Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice also includes rules that prohibit gambling advertising during children’s programming from 6am to 8.30am and 4pm to 7pm. Similar prohibitions also apply in the current Commercial Radio Code of Practice.
The report contains 31 recommendations to help address the impacts of online gambling. If adopted, the recommendations would result in significant changes to the current regulations and reduce the extent to which sports and media organisations can include gambling and wagering advertisements and promotions in the broadcast of sporting events.
One of the main recommendations from the report is for a total ban on all forms of advertising for online gambling within three years. The report recommends that the total ban be introduced in four phases:
- Phase One: a ban of all online gambling inducements, such as the offer of credits, rewards or vouchers, a ban on all advertising of online gambling on social media and online platforms and a ban on advertising online gambling on commercial radio between 8.30-9am and 3.30-4pm (school drop off and pick up). Removal of the exemption for advertising online gambling during news and current affairs broadcasts.
- Phase Two: a ban on all online gambling advertising and commentary on odds, during and an hour either side of a sports broadcast. The ban would also extend to all advertising inside stadiums, including logos on players’ uniforms.
- Phase Three: a ban on all broadcast online gambling advertising between the hours of 6am and 10pm.
- Phase Four: all advertising and sponsorship of online gambling to be banned by the end of year three.
The report recommends an exemption to the ban for advertising of online gambling on dedicated racing channels and programming. Small community radio broadcasters would not be subject to the restrictions until the end of 2025.
While legislation has not yet been proposed to effect the recommendations, if the recommendations do become law they will:
- restrict the ability of television broadcasters and online streaming platforms to broadcast commentary on betting odds during and around sporting events;
- further restrict the ability of television broadcasters and online streaming platforms to broadcast online gambling advertisements during and around sporting events; and
- restrict the sponsorships and advertising which sports can procure from online gambling operators (particularly at venues).