Gambling Ads Could Be Banned Within Three Years With Commercial TV Hit The Hardest

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The Albanese government is currently mulling recommendations from a parliamentary report into the negative impact of online gambling. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a phased ban on gambling advertising was one of the recommendations of the report. The ban would apply across television, radio, newspapers and online.

The committee also recommended that the government introduce a national strategy on gambling harm reduction, creates an online gambling ombudsman, improves data collection and imposes new harm reduction levies. 

Committee chair Peta Murphy said the timeline for the ads ban would “give major sports and broadcasters time to find alternate advertisers and sponsors while preventing another generation from experiencing escalating gambling harm”.

“Gambling advertising and simulated gambling through video games is grooming children and young people to gamble and encourages riskier behaviour,” she said. “The torrent of advertising is inescapable. It is manipulating an impressionable and vulnerable audience to gamble online.”

Commercial television would be the hardest-hit medium if an ad ban did come into place. A total of $310 million was spent on gambling ads in 2022 according to data from Nielsen’s Ad Intel Panel, more than 50 per cent was spent on commercial television. 

Some media owners are already moving to ban gambling ads. 

Last week Network 10 said it would be withdrawing its bid to sponsor the Melbourne cup due to the event becoming increasingly wagering-focused. 

Meanwhile The Guardian announced earlier this month that it would no longer be accepting gambling ads. 

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV Australia, which acts on behalf of networks Seven, Nine and Ten, said on Wednesday the proposed ban was based on a flawed premise that the advertising market was “some kind of magic pudding”.

“While we appreciate that there are concerns in the community regarding the volume of gambling ads, kneejerk moves to implement outright bans will ultimately hurt viewers and the television services they love,” she said.

Radio body, the  CRA,  has also expressed deep concern that radio has been unfairly treated in recommendations outlined in the final report.

The industry body which represents 260 radio broadcasters across Australia, said broadcasters supported the need for action to reduce the harms from gambling, but measures needed to be applied consistently and fairly.

“We question why radio has been singled out for a ban on gambling ads during our peak listening times of 8.30-9.00 am and 3.30-4pm in the first phase when we are not a primary player in gambling advertising and radio has never been held up as one of the main problem areas,” CRA CEO Ford Ennals said.

“The important breakfast and drive time sessions are critical to radio stations’ revenue.  Children do not drive and when they are in the car, they have parental or adult supervision.

“Measures that are introduced must be balanced against the impact of the loss of revenue on the sustainability of local radio services and the quality of news and local content services stations are able to provide.  Radio revenues are being hit by the economic downturn and if alternative revenue sources existed we would already be tapping into those.

“We are committed to working constructively with the Government to support the objectives of reducing harms from gambling ads whilst ensuring commercial radio can continue to provide the live news, information and entertainment services that Australians depend on.”

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