Tabcorp CEO to inquiry: ‘The proliferation of gambling advertising has gone too far’

The wagering industry has reached a “critical line in the sand moment”. Those are the words of Tabcorp CEO, Adam Rytenskild, this morning as he addressed the inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm.

“From the outset, I want to reiterate that Tabcorp absolutely supports this inquiry,” Rytenskild told the Standing Committee on Social and Legal Policy (the Committee) today. “The proliferation of gambling advertising, we believe, has gone too far. This is not good for the broader Australian community, and it’s not good for the long-term sustainability of the wagering industry. Regulation of the industry is rightly an increasing focus for the government and for the community.”

Tabcorp CEO, Adam Rytenskild

More than half of Australians would support a ban on wagering advertising across broadcast channels before 10.30 pm, according to research last week from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

In his address, Rytenskild went as far as to claim that Tabcorp Holdings Limited, Australia’s largest wagering firm, would voluntarily halt all advertising on free-to-air TV between 6:30am and 8:30pm. He said Tabcorp supports a ban between these hours unless it is during dedicated racing programming.

“We’ll await the consideration of the outcome of this inquiry. But ultimately, we are committed to voluntarily stopping advertising between these hours if needed.”

According to data provided to Mumbrella by Nielsen, the total gambling category spend between 1 September 2021 and 31 August 2022 was $288.6 million, with Sportsbet the top spender, followed by Tabcorp.

The gambling industry spent $287.2m on advertising in Australia across the 2021 calendar year, up from $271.3 million in 2020. Just over a decade ago in 2011, it sat at $89.7 million, with this excluding advertising on social media, sponsorships and in-program content.

Rytenskild also mentioned that, “Over the last five plus years, the sector has been disrupted by mostly foreign-owned online bookmakers who operate nationally, but are only licensed with low tax and light regulation in the Northern Territory.”

He called for stronger, nationally consistent regulation, “as a matter of urgency”.

“We stand for a sustainable and well-funded racing industry, vibrant local pubs and community clubs, and well-regulated gambling sector with a strong commitment to minimizing gambling harm and keeping criminals out of the gambling ecosystem.

“At Tabcorp, we want to be part of leading the change. The amount of gambling advertising has gone too far. The community don’t want it and won’t tolerate it. Australian families and children should be able to watch live sport and television without being bombarded by gambling advertising.

“Our regulators do a fantastic job, but state regulations are 25 years old and are no longer fit for purpose. The regulatory and legislative frame framework has not kept pace with the disruption within the market. We believe that a nationally consistent regulatory framework, which all wagering operators must abide by is urgently needed and essential.

Later, he told the committee that Tabcorp and other wagering firms “can’t chase revenue at all costs”.

Gillion McLachlan: Set to appear this morning

Later this morning, the AFL and NRL’s chief executive officers, Gillon McLachlan and Andrew Abdo respectively, are set to appear before the committee.

Recently, McLachlan told Melbourne radio station 3AW, “I think there is probably too much” gambling on the sport’s broadcast coverage.

“I don’t have a problem that other people do around wagering, I just think the volume is too much. It’s in your face.”

The AFL has a yearly $8 million deal with Sportsbet, while the NRL’s deal is worth $12 million, with Cricket Australia holding a $3.5 million deal with Bet365, too.

In his closing remark, Rytenskild said: “the community rightly expects gambling to be an adult-considered choice, not something that is forced upon their family at home.”

Across the rest of the hearing, representatives from Entain, Sportsbet, Responsible Wagering Australia, The Lottery Corporation and the Australian Gambling Research Centre, Australian Institute of Family Studies will appear.


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