Calls for Sports Betting Advertising Ban Fuelled by Increased Online Gambling Participation Rates in Australia during Covid-19 Lockdown

Calls for Sports Betting Advertising Ban Fuelled by Increased Online Gambling Participation Rates in Australia during Covid-19 Lockdown

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The gambling industry in Australia has experienced some financial hurdles in 2020 following the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, overseas gambling operators have managed to generate billions of dollars last year, taking advantage of the considerable increase in online gambling participation rates. Unfortunately for them, they are now facing the possibility of becoming the subject of sports betting advertising ban in the country.

For some time now, anti-gambling campaigners have been warning about an increase in online gambling saying that was a reason good enough for a ban on sports betting advertising.

Because of the social distancing and stay-at-home measures in the previous year, many Australian residents were forced to look for ways to entertain themselves, considering the fact they were not allowed to get out as much as they usually are. According to reports, over 2,000 Australians created accounts with a variety of online gambling operators and sportsbooks in the past year alone.

The anti-gambling campaigners’ calls for a gambling advertising ban are nothing new in the sector. The same group of activists from the Alliance for Gambling Reform has been entering the same circle over and over again in the last few years, calling for the Government to take further measures in order to protect local residents from possible gambling-related harm.

Online Gambling Operators See Market Value Increase During Coronavirus Pandemic

At the beginning of 2021, some sports betting companies, such as Entain and Flutter Entertainment registered a considerable increase in their market value. Such operators have managed to take advantage of the lower and more favourable tax regime in the Northern Territory that has set an AU$575,000 annual betting tax.

As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the gambling giant Flutter Entertainment, which owns Sportsbet, reported a 46% increase in its turnover, and a 59% surge in its Australian revenue for 20290.

The market value of Flutter Entertainment currently amounts to more than the entire gross domestic product (GDP) of the Northern Territory. Apart from owning Sportsbet, the company also operates some of the most popular and well-presented brands in the industry, including Paddy Power, Betfair and PokerStars. All of them have been successful in the Australian market so far. In March, the company’s boss Peter Jackson revealed that Sportsbet had continued to generate continuous growth in the country, increasing its share of the Australian online gambling industry from 43% to 46% in just a year, with more than 675,000 new customers added to its customer base from 2019 to 2020.

Another overseas gambling giant that operates in Australia – Entain – managed to generate AU$8 billion in value over the coronavirus pandemic thanks to its online gambling offering.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Calls for Gambling Advertising Ban

The local anti-gambling organisation Alliance for Gambling Reform had been calling for stricter measures against gambling advertising in the country for quite some time. Now, sports betting adverts have become the main focus of their campaigns.

The main advocate for the organisation, Tim Costello, stated that constant gambling advertising is responsible for triggering bigger gambling participation rates in the country. He said that gambling operators that have been aggressively promoting their services to Australians, encouraging them to spend more money on gambling were to blame for some local people gambling away their savings during the coronavirus closures.

Research held among more than 2,000 Australian gamblers in July 2020 by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that one in three people who took part in the survey, especially young male Australians, created new betting accounts during the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, the number of people who gambled more often than four times a week rose from 23% to 32% in the past year.

Mr Costello also warned that increased gambling advertising could change the perception of underage individuals. According to his reports, three out of four Australian children will consider gambling a normal everyday activity because of the ads.

The top advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform said that constant gambling advertising that popularises all sorts of so-called bonus bets that pushed some people to gamble more than they usually do, spending away some of their savings or, even worse – spending their superannuation payments. The organisation’s calls have also been supported by two major sports teams in the state of New South Wales (NSW) – MacArthur FC and the Sydney Swans.

Trade Body of Licensed Gambling Operators Disagrees with the AGR Claims

In their turn, gambling operators in Australia opposed the proposed gambling advertising ban, saying that the licensed industry brings taxes worth about AU$1 billion to the country.

As betting operators explained these taxes include but are not limited to company taxes, point-of-consumption taxes, GST and payroll taxes. Furthermore, many sports betting operators were forced to shift their services to online platforms because of the lengthy closures they were subject to during the coronavirus lockdown in the country.

Responsible Wagering Australia, the independent trade body representing the licensed betting service providers in the country, disagreed with the claims of Tim Costello, saying that the Alliance for Gambling Reform was making attempts to demonise gambling and mislead both the authorities and customers.

According to a representative of the organisation, Brent Jackson, the increase registered in gambling participation rates and popularity of gambling services in Australia, the number of problem gamblers in the country has declined. Mr Jackson further noted that the complaints regarding sports betting advertisements have reached a record low level, making the problem from Mr Costello’s claims a non-existent one.

Australian Government Wants to Monitor Previous Advertising Reform’s Effectiveness

Currently, the country’s Government is monitoring the 2018 reform for advertising in Australia. According to Paul Fletcher, the Federal Communications Minister, the Government wants to check the effectiveness of the advertising reform during live sporting events before taking further steps of restriction.

For the time being, gambling and sports betting advertising is allowed in Australia. However, operators are restricted from airing such adverts at certain times, such as between 6:00 AM and 8:30 AM and between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM, as well as during TV programs with a G rating. Gambling adverts are not allowed in children’s TV programs from 5:00 AM to 8:30 PM.

The 2018 reform was unleashed as a result of a study that took place two years earlier among children aged from 8 to 16. At the time, the researchers found that no less than three-quarters of the underage individuals who participated in the survey were able to name one gambling brand and considered gambling part of normal life or sports events. Some were even able to describe some of the features of the special offers popularised by the gambling adverts.

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.

Daniel Williams

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