Foxtel In Hot Water Over Illegal Gambling Company Adverts During Test Cricket Match

Foxtel In Hot Water Over Illegal Gambling Company Adverts During Test Cricket Match

Foxtel is under examination by the federal communications watchdog over whether it breached gambling advertising laws when ads for two illegal offshore betting companies appeared in the broadcast of last week’s test cricket match between Australia and New Zealand in Wellington.

Lead image: Credit ABC/Fox Sports

The subject of concern was a virtual billboard for Parimatch that appeared on the field. The Cyprus-based online casino and bookmaker was blocked by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2022 when it was found to be illegally offering unlicensed gambling to Australians. The broadcast also included electronic barrier ads for 1xBat, a re-direction URL that takes users to Curacao-based bookmaker 1xBet, which is not licensed to operate in Australia but can be accessed by a virtual private network that allows users to mask their location.

Credit – ABC/Fox Sports

The ads in question appeared during the Fox Sports and Kayo’s broadcast of the match and were commissioned by New Zealand Cricket (NZC). Since the game occurred on NZ soil, NZC is responsible for broadcasting advertising rights.

NZC told ABC that the deals were negotiated with a third-party rights agency in India and confirmed that the digitally superimposed Parimatch ad was not visible to New Zealand audiences but did not respond to questions about why the ad was visible to Australian viewers.

“We’re liaising with our Australian broadcast partner, Fox Sports, to discuss options and possible solutions should they be required,” an NZC spokesperson said. “NZC will be reviewing its position on this advertising ahead of the second Test against Australia”.

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is investigating whether the ads breached gambling promotional laws in NZ that make publishing an overseas gambling advertisement illegal in the country.

ACMA has been made aware of the issue but has yet to decide whether it will open a formal investigation. The watchdog noted there is an exemption to the rules in cases where the advertising is “accidental or incidental” and the broadcaster “does not receive any direct or indirect benefit” for publishing the advertisement. “Whether that is the case depends on the facts and circumstances of each matter,” an ACMA spokesperson said.

Foxtel denied any involvement in the advertising, saying that NZC provided all virtual advertisements. “Fox Sports Australia does not have any control over the production of the live world feed nor the ability to modify or edit the virtual advertising included in the live world feed,” a spokesperson for Foxtel said. “The Foxtel Group did not receive any revenue or benefit from the inclusion of these virtual advertisements and believes that its broadcast complied with relevant laws”.

B&T spoke with Les Bernal, from a US-based not-for-profit Stop Predatory Gambling, last week, who discussed how gambling advertising has created an “epidemic of teen and childhood gambling” that is “driven by greed”.

“You have kids today on school playgrounds and in school locker rooms, where instead of talking about things that kids will usually talk about, now they’re talking about their parlay bets, their prop bets or the spread on different games. That’s a new phenomenon in our culture. And it’s having incredible ramifications on young people. Over the last three months alone, there’s been a multitude of major national stories about how, particularly, online gambling is inflicting enormous harm,” Bernal told B&T.

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