Gambling ad ban opponents demand alternatives, warning of ‘significant’ impacts

An outright ban on gambling ads would have “significant negative impacts” on the advertising and media industries, groups have warned.

Shockwaves continue to be felt from a bombshell report handed down yesterday by a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling and its community harms.

Among its 31 sweeping recommendations was one calling for gambling ads to be banned within three years. Such a reform could cost media operators $300 million a year in lost revenue.

Gai Le Roy, chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, expressed concern about a proposed outright ban, describing it as “not a proportionate response”.

“We recognise there is community concern in relation to ‘saturation’ gambling advertising which needs to be addressed and we are willing to work constructively with the government to make that happen,” Le Roy said.

“There are a range of tools available to manage the delivery of ads online and we would urge the government to give further thought to how these can best be utilised to reduce the volume of gambling advertising.”

Le Roy warned that restrictions on advertising in the current economic climate would “affect the industry’s ability to support the delivery of freely available content and services online”.

“Outright bans will have a significant negative impact across the market,” she said.

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It is a warning echoed by Free TV Australia – the lobby group for Seven, Nine and Ten – which said an ad ban would lead to a drop in spend on Australian content. Commercial Radio and Audio also warned of content investment consequences stemming from significant revenue losses.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers said it acknowledged growing community concern about gambling ads.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “AANA will continue to work with the government, industry and other stakeholders to ensure the advertising self-regulatory system is responsive to community concerns and encourages responsible advertising.

“That is why we are undertaking a public review of the Wagering Code to ensure minimum standards for gambling advertising aligns with community expectations and best practice.”

Responsible Wagering Australia, the industry group for gambling operators, said a blanket ban on advertising is “a step too far”.

The group’s chief executive Kai Cantwell said there are more effective ways to meet community expectations, including a cap on the number of ads that can be shown.

“By doing this, the expectations of the community to see less advertising would be met, while also maintaining the crucial support to sporting codes and local broadcasters,” Cantwell said.

“RWA members, along with broadcasters and major sporting codes have publicly acknowledged that there is a growing desire in the community to see less gambling advertising.

“However, blanket bans – even in a phased roll out – are short sighted, ineffective and are not the answer.”

Barni Evans, boss of major gambling operator Sportsbet, said he supports a significant reduction in the number of ads rather than a complete ban.

“It is important that any changes in regulation recognise that gambling is a lawful form of entertainment enjoyed responsibly by millions of Australians,” Evans said.

“We will continue to work constructively with the Government and all parties to encourage evidence-based solutions that are effective.”

The government has said it will review the inquiry’s report and consider its recommendations in consultation with stakeholders.


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