“An Error Was Made In Round One”: Tabcorp Admits To Breaching Its Own Advertising Rules

“An Error Was Made In Round One”: Tabcorp Admits To Breaching Its Own Advertising Rules

Tabcorp has admitted to breaching its own self-regulated rules regarding gambling advertising during sporting events.

In the first few minutes of the first round of the AFL last month, viewers watching the free-to-air broadcast had already been subjected to more than 70 gambling ads, including fluorescent ads for Tabcorp plastered on digital billboards around the ground.

The ads breached Tabcorp’s self-imposed rules that they will not advertise between 6.30 am and 8.30 pm—going beyond what they are required to do by law. The betting giant conceded that the ads were a mistake.

“Our position on in-stadium advertising is the same as our position on free-to-air television advertising – we don’t advertise before 8.30 pm and have not done so since an error was made in Round one,” a spokesperson for Tabcorp said.

Under current laws, gambling ads cannot be broadcast during matches, but bookmakers can pay for pitch-side ads within view of cameras—a loophole that anti-gambling agencies are lobbying to tighten. However, while Tabcorp has not breached any actual laws, it is in breach of its own self-regulatory rules that say there is “too much advertising” and that change is necessary to protect vulnerable people from the potential dangers of gambling.

“Australian families should be able to watch live sport without being bombarded by gambling advertising,” then chief executive of Tabcorp Adam Rytenskild said in March last year.

All Victorian clubs have rejected gambling sponsorship, with most partnering with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. However, GWS and the Brisbane Lions still hold sponsorship deals with Tabcorp, and AFL still earns a portion of the money from every bet placed on the sport. Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans banned gambling ads at their home stadiums a few years ago, but the ads are still prominent at the MCG (despite decreasing) and at the Gabba in Brisbane.

B&T contacted the AFL for comment on their stance on gambling advertising but did not receive a response prior to publishing this story.

The mistake has raised calls for gambling advertising reform with the ground-based ads engraining gambling practice within the sport itself. According to the Alliance For Gambling Reform, three in every four kids believe that gambling is a normal part of sports, and anyone 12 or younger has never watched a sporting game without bearing witness to gambling advertising of some capacity.

“I am now reluctant to allow my child to view the footy fixture online due to the ‘Bet Easy’ icon next to the game. I also feel annoyed and dismayed at the AFL that they have allowed a gambling company to infiltrate the game,” an anonymous source told the Alliance For Gambling Reform.

While calls for a total gambling advertising ban will likely be rejected, there is pressure on reform, particularly surrounding on-field and stadium ads, with the Albanese government still in discussions. “The government is examining restrictions and engaging with stakeholders, including harm reduction advocates, health experts and industry, as we develop our policy,” said communications minister Michelle Rowland earlier this year.




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