One punt too far?

One punt too far?
SHARE
THIS



 

Sport is worth more than $8.5bn to the Australian economy and bookmakers have moved to cash in on Australian fans. But have they pushed too far? As an enquiry into advertising gambling kicks off, Jessica Kennedy discovers that they risk strangling the golden goose.

 

The stakes are high in the contest for the hearts and minds, or in this case the dollars, of Australian sporting fans and the sports betting firms have risen to the challenge. In one year alone eight of the country’s top spending online sports gambling companies outlaid a whopping $46.5m on main media advertising, Nielsen estimates.

These deep pockets have seen Australia’s two most popular codes, the AFL and NRL, become overrun by gambling sponsors. But have the betting firms had one punt too many?

“They are cooking the goose that laid the golden egg before our very eyes,” says Steve Allen, media analyst and principal at Fusion Strategy.

Rather than learn from the experiences of the tobacco and alcohol industries before them, Allen says the gambling companies have “polluted” sport, and he is not alone in his opinions.

“Insidious”, “excessive”, “sickening” and of “farcical proportions” are the terms football fans have used to describe gambling advertising during television broadcasts of the AFL on popular forum, Big Footy.

Now, a big red bullseye has been drawn on the industry. On the same day that the reputation of Australian sport was plunged into the depths under a tsunami of revelations linking our most popular codes to match fixing, organised crime and drugs, the Senate passed a motion for an inquiry into the advertising and promotion of gambling services in sport.

The Greens-created inquiry will see a joint select committee look at sponsorship, venue and broadcast advertising, in-game promotions and gambling commentary.

The inquiry will also look at whether greater levels of advertising have led to more problem gambling and the effect gambling ads have on children.

“Kids are finding it very difficult to understand where a game of footy ends and gambling begins,” Green’s Senator Richard di Natale said in a statement. “If we fail to act now to protect our kids, we risk creating another generation of problem gamblers.”

The effect on children is a major concern for lobby group GetUp!. “Gambling is an adult behavior, it is an adult activity and something that only adults should be doing,” GetUp!’s spokesperson told B&T. “So why on earth are we allowing it to be advertised during G-rated programming?”

In practice, advertisements for gambling services are not supposed to run during the G-rated time periods of 6am-8.30am daily, between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays and 4pm and 7.30pm on weekends.

However, those restrictions do not apply to sports, news or current affairs programs.  This loophole is something GetUp! is keen to see rectified.

Last year a report, commissioned by online bookmaker Sportsbet, found that sports betting was growing at a rate of 13% a year with turnover estimated at $3.3bn compared to racing wagering’s $20bn.

Of that $3.3bn, betting on the AFL generated turnover of approximately $900m while NRL gambling produced $750m.

While the Greens have said the aim of the advertising inquiry is not to ban gambling companies from promoting their wares, if it results in tough restrictions it holds the potential to impact bookmakers’ bottom lines.

In turn, the inquiry could have mammoth ramifications for the sporting organisations and their broadcasters with the $45m that wagering operators are estimated to invest in NRL and AFL product fees, sponsorship, media promotion and advertising annually, sure to dry up.

As Andy Wright, general manager of Interbrand Sydney, explains, if one party hurts the other will too. “If I’m a betting company and I am not able to get the audience that I need on TV to be able to make it worthwhile me paying for advertising then I pull my advertising and stick it somewhere else.”

Both the AFL and the NRL are sponsored by betting companies, with the AFL in bed with TAB Sportsbet while Tom Waterhouse reportedly banks on the NRL.

In addition to this, only three of the AFL’s 18 clubs did not have a connection to a betting agency last year and a number of the NRL’s clubs also have official betting links.

For Allen, the fact that a bookmaker can sponsor a team, code or event is “neither here nor there”; the real issue is the “overstimulation of the viewer or listener with the constant pumping of gambling odds”.

“I certainly have a deep worry that the telecasters have just lost their way. They don’t know what is reasonable. There is no balance.”

Alex Blaszczynski, director of the Gambling Treatment Unit at the University of Sydney, told B&T it is the discussion of odds among “so-called respected sports commentators” that really legitimises and  normalises betting as part-and-parcel of sport.

“There is nothing wrong with advertising sports betting if it is done within the appropriate channels, and that is commercials. But we need to exclude commentary and displaying odds as part of sports broadcasts.”

At the urging of the Federal Government last year commercial radio, television and subscription broadcasters committed to developing voluntary codes to measure and reduce the promotion of live odds during sporting events.

Julie Flynn, chief executive of Free TV Australia, said: “The agreement includes banning sporting commentators from mentioning live odds, and banning all live odds promotions during play.

“Free TV anticipates that its Code amendments regarding live odds in sports broadcasts will be available for public consultation in the near future.”

The changes need to be sooner rather than later for Allen, who believes networks risk losing their audiences as they fill their broadcasts with “puerile stuff that takes away enjoyment”.

“If you forget why people are watching, you can only expect to lose audience,” he adds. “The warning shot has gone over their bows. If telecasters aren’t taking notice of this, if they think that nothing has changed and that this will be a storm in a teacup, a month from now when the codes are back on air and they make no adjustment – they will be making a fatal mistake.”

Nine’s managing director Jeffrey Browne says the network is very aware of the sensitivities in the community towards live betting odds during broadcasts of actual play: “Our overall commitment is to preserve the integrity of the sporting codes we telecast and to work with various sporting bodies to ensure that remains sacrosanct.”

 

This article first appeared in the March 01 edition of B&T magazine.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Sunday TV Wrap: Seven’s ‘All Together Now’ Finds Its Voice, But It’s Nine Doing The Winning Singing
  • Media

Sunday TV Wrap: Seven’s ‘All Together Now’ Finds Its Voice, But It’s Nine Doing The Winning Singing

In a relatively quiet Sunday night of TV, Seven’s All Together Now was the standout entertainment show of the night with 698,000 viewers. Yet again, news and current affairs dominated with Seven’s 6pm news bulletin (913,000) the most watched show of the night followed by Nine’s version with 851,000. 60 Minutes was the third most […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
IKEA Turns Broken Lift Into Wonderfully Black Christmas Ad
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

IKEA Turns Broken Lift Into Wonderfully Black Christmas Ad

A malfunctioning lift is the backdrop to a wonderful Christmas spot for IKEA Italy. The ad features two men stuck in a lift with their IKEA purchases in tow. Unable to escape, the strangers make the best of the situation and set up a festive scenario right there in the lift. The ad’s the work of […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
2018 State of Origin - NSW Blues v QLD Maroons

June 6th 2018, MCG #ORIGIN

Digital Image: Nathan Hopkins © NRL Photos
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Opinion
  • Partner Content

Sport Is A Shining Example Of Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution

In this opinion piece, QMS Media’s Anne Parsons (pictured below) explains why the marketing effectiveness of sport has stood – and continues to stand – the test of time for brands. In the world of media where fortune favours the brave and the shiny new thing takes the spotlight, media channels are being overturned and […]

Partner Content

by QMS Sport

TV WEEK ​​Unveils Inaugural List Of The Next-Gen Women On Aussie TV
  • Media

TV WEEK ​​Unveils Inaugural List Of The Next-Gen Women On Aussie TV

Bauer’s TV WEEK is using its latest issue to celebrate women, with the release of its inaugural list of Next Gen Women of Australian television. The 13-page feature story showcases 37 women who are leading in their field within the Australian television industry. From actresses to writers, producers to reality stars, these women epitomise the modern […]

Why Advertising Needs To Look To The “Good Ol’ Days” To Avoid Becoming Extinct
  • Advertising
  • Opinion

Why Advertising Needs To Look To The “Good Ol’ Days” To Avoid Becoming Extinct

Last week B&T published an opinion piece by J Walter Thompson Sydney’s head of strategy, Carly Yanco, titled Why Aussie Adland Needs To Call “Time” On The “Good Ol’ Days. Unsurprisingly, the piece ruffled a few feathers with some industry veterans and here, B&T regular Robert Strohfeldt, pens his riposte to young Yanco’s claims… This is the third time […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Blue 449 Launches New Campaign For Chivas  “Success Is A Blend”
  • Campaigns
  • Media

Blue 449 Launches New Campaign For Chivas “Success Is A Blend”

Blue 449 has launched a new paid media campaign called Success is a Blend for Chivas Regal, the original luxury blended Scotch whisky. This through the line campaign celebrates the belief that blended is better, in life and in Scotch. Chivas’ faith in blending was instilled by founding brothers, James and John Chivas, who pioneered […]

The Australian Unveils Fourth Edition Of The Deal For Emerging Female Leaders
  • Media

The Australian Unveils Fourth Edition Of The Deal For Emerging Female Leaders

The Australian has today published its fourth annual edition of The Deal focused on emerging female leaders, in association with Chief Executive Women (CEW). The issue showcases successful women while asking some challenging questions. The Deal editor Helen Trinca said: “Women have achieved so much, even if there is more to do, and there is […]

Shake The Cage Cup Submissions Open
  • Media

Shake The Cage Cup Submissions Open

Didn't have much like on the recent Melbourne Cup? Well, why not turn your attention to the Shake The Cage Cup instead?