Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page
Sports betting advertising
This chapter will cover sports betting advertising. While chapter nine
dealt with advertising of interactive gambling services covered by the Interactive
Gambling Act 2001 (IGA), this chapter will consider the reasons for the
growth in advertising of sports betting services. As well as outlining some
current research on the proliferation and possible effects of the growth of sports
betting advertising, it will also cover the practice of offering inducements to
bet and the sponsorship links between the betting industry and sport. The
recent government announcement on reducing promotion of live odds during sport will
also be covered. The chapter finishes with discussion of the current regulatory
landscape and the calls for a national approach to regulation of advertising
for sports betting.
Recent proliferation of sports betting advertising
Sports betting has grown at a rapid pace in Australia over the past
several years, as outlined in chapter 10. Many submitters to the inquiry
attribute this growth to the proliferation of marketing campaigns to promote
online sports betting services.
Clubs Australia described the landscape for advertising of legal sports
betting services and contrasted it with that for prohibited interactive online
While the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 prohibits the
advertising of interactive gambling services, there are virtually no
restrictions on advertising gambling products such as sports betting and
wagering online or through mainstream media. Currently, companies advertise
widely during televised national sporting events, heavily promoting gambling
services and the placing of bets. In some instances, sporting odds are even
provided during match commentary. A number of researchers have indicated that
advertising expenditure appears to be increasing and
that gambling advertising during sporting events is increasingly viewed as a
social norm. A High Court judgment has confirmed that current laws permit
wagering companies to advertise, offer inducements to players and offer credit
betting facilities. These outcomes are
contrary to good public policy.
The Australian Christian Lobby argued that the growing relationship
between sport and gambling was 'unhealthy':
Sport is an important part of Australian culture and is
widely followed by families and children. Encouraging gambling and normalising
it as an inherent characteristic of sport presents an unhealthy image of sport
to young fans. Such frequent promotion of gambling is unnecessary and creates
an unwelcome sporting environment for families who do not desire gambling as a
part of their sporting experiences.
As well as unnecessary messages about the place of gambling
in sport, this provides an unhealthy culture within sport itself. In the light
of some prominent recent controversies involving match fixing and a growing
problem of betting scandals within sport, addressing gambling advertising in
sport is timely, and regulation would be welcome in addressing some unhealthy
Dr John McMullan's submission also highlighted research showing that
sustained promotion of sports betting is having negative effects on young
According to Dyall, Tse & Kingi (2007) the repeated
promotion of gambling through sport products, images, usages and icons has
created community wide legitimacy to participate in wagering at an earlier age
overall. New Zealand children, they say, are heavily exposed to gambling
advertisements that are “linked to sport or a major sport or track event, such
as watching a major rugby game or horse racing event.”
Dr McMullan argued that the reinforcement of messages about sport and
gambling have combined in such a way as to lead to the perception that there is
an indissoluble association between the two activities:
...the messaging in more and more gambling advertising is
evincing an emergent sport-related belief system within actual advertising
content. McMullan & Miller (2008; 2009; 2010) found that the use of sport
symbols such as footballs, hockey pucks, goal lines, goal posts, soccer
pitches, golf greens, tennis courts, pool tables and stadiums, along with the
shouts of players, the images of sport gear and the roar of spectators have
come together in both online and brick and mortar advertising to associate
winning at gambling with winning at sports. The sport content, they say, brings
gambling products to consumers in new ways while simultaneously minimizing the
negative impressions of wagering by relating online card games to popular
approved uses, users and ideals that equate the fun of gambling with the fun of
playing the big game on grass, clay or ice.
Clubs Australia asserted that excessive sports betting advertising was
glamorising gambling behaviour and noted that land-based venues did not operate
on a level playing field in relation to advertising:
The association of gambling with sportspeople and sports
broadcasters glamorises participation in gambling and informs youth of
opportunities to engage. The results of a recent study clearly underscore the
power of gambling advertising. Forty-two per cent of those surveyed stated that
gambling advertising made them want to try gambling. Another study examined sources of gambling advertising: 96 per
cent reported exposure through television advertising and 93 per cent reported
By contrast, land-based venues in most jurisdictions are
prohibited from promoting their gambling operations in advertising and signage.
In NSW, venues are not permitted to acknowledge that such facilities even
Dr Sally Gainsbury has suggested that future trends in the sports
betting environment will include an increasing use of social media, an
increasing relationship with television and growth in the use of sponsorship.
For example, a Centrebet presentation to the Gaming, Racing and Wagering
Conference in August 2011 illustrated the company's intention to be ranked in
the top two operators in the Australian corporate bookmaking market. To achieve
this goal, Centrebet's marketing activities focused on major Australian sports
sponsorship and promotion activity including sponsorship of National Rugby
League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL) teams (e.g. Cronulla Sharks
and St Kilda) and on-ground signage deals with the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG),
including sponsorship of NRL 'corner-posts'. As part of its deal with the SCG,
Centrebet reported that it was able to access the Sydney Swans team database to
'understand how the club works and how to convert fans to punters'.
Sponsorship links between betting agencies and sporting clubs are further
discussed later in this chapter.
Some in the community also object to the advertising methods used by
sports betting agencies. One submitter to the inquiry observed that a sports
betting advertisement that had been screened on Saturday afternoon during the
AFL preliminary final on Channel Ten was distasteful and offensive because of
its 'intended and overt sexual connotations'.
2008 High Court decision on Betfair
A number of submitters pointed to the 2008 High Court ruling involving
Betfair and the state of Western Australia as being a crucial decision for
sports betting advertising. In March 2008, the High Court of Australia ruled
that section 92 of the Constitution, guaranteeing the absolute freedom of
interstate trade and commerce, effectively invalidated Western Australian laws
which had been introduced to prohibit people in Western Australia from using a
licensed betting exchange and to prohibit a licensed betting exchange offering
markets on Western Australian races.
Betfair's submission also referred to this landmark case:
The Western Australian government justified the prohibition
on the basis that betting exchanges supposedly threatened the integrity of
racing in WA. The legislation was ruled constitutionally invalid by the High
Court. The Court found that a prohibition
is not “necessary for the protection of the integrity of the racing industry of
that State” (paragraph 110) and that the regulation imposed by Tasmanian
legislation (i.e. the Gaming Control Act 1993 Tas) is effective and
non-discriminatory. In reaching its decision, the High Court compared the three
types of betting operators in the Australian marketplace – totalisators,
bookmakers and betting exchanges – and determined that Western Australia was
not permitted to treat betting exchanges differently on the basis of integrity.
FamilyVoice Australia pointed out that this ruling has since 'opened up
advertising to sports betting agencies registered under looser laws in the
The High Court decision makes it
constitutionally problematic for individual States to adequately control
gambling advertising. This puts the onus on the Commonwealth to take the lead
in promoting a co-operative federalist approach to this issue.
The calls for national action on a number of areas of advertising are
outlined throughout the rest of this chapter.
Inducements to bet
Unsurprisingly, sports betting providers argued against restricting the
practice of offering inducements to bet (including the offering of free credit
or 'free bets'). On the other hand, some submitters to the inquiry claimed that
the use of 'inducements' to advertise betting products was inappropriate and
could contribute to or exacerbate problem gambling.
Leagues Clubs Australia's submission described a range of inducements
and promotions offered by online sports betting providers:
- 100% first deposit bonus
- Deposit $25 to get a $100 free bet
- Deposit $30 to get a $100 free bet
- Place first bet up to $50 and if it loses they’ll refund
you up to $50 (Excludes VIC and SA)
- $1000 Free Bet – 15% Signup bonus: Enter promotional Code HIGHROLLER.
To get the most of this bonus we need to deposit $15,000. The minimum
requirement is a $2,000 first deposit.
- Get 10% added to your odds
- Get $50 FREE Bets. 20% BETTER ODDS
- Score a $200 Bet You Can’t Lose!
- Join Today and Receive $100 Deposit Bonus!
The Productivity Commission's (PC) view was that inducements, including
the offering of free bets to open betting accounts, are not necessarily harmful
and may even enhance competition by reducing 'switching costs between incumbent
wagering operators and new entrants'. It recommended that any perceived risks
of inducements should be properly assessed and that, regardless of whether
prohibition or managed liberalisation is the appropriate outcome, a nationally
consistent approach would be warranted.
The PC's view was supported by a number of submitters including the NSW
Bookmakers' Co-operative Ltd, the Australian Bookmakers' Association and
Betchoice's submission argued that the use of the term 'inducement' was 'overly
broad' and provided:
...little assistance in developing good policy. Inducements
cover a wide range of business practices, can occur in a variety of media and
may be targeted at widely differing groups. As an example, we set out below
some of the practices, media and target audiences that may be involved in an
Betchoice argued strongly against a prohibition on all inducements:
A prohibition...would, if taken literally, extend to
preventing operators from lowering prices to respond to competitive pressures
or to pass on production savings. It makes no sense in a liberalised
environment, such as wagering, to prevent so broad a range of standard business
Sportsbet reaffirmed the PC's position on inducements and promotional
activities as being pro-competitive:
New entrants will seek to invest heavily in advertising and
inducements; we would expect that the returns to advertising spending would
only materialise after a threshold level is exceeded.
Promotional activities by new entrants will be
pro-competitive, if undertaken on a sufficient scale. The Productivity
Commission found that inducements may serve primarily to reduce the cost to
consumers of switching from incumbents to new entrants, and could therefore be
Incumbents will seek to invest in promotional activities, but
they also stand to gain from restrictions on such activities. This is because
their reputational advantage as incumbents means that an inability to spend an
extra dollar on such activities will disadvantage new entrants to a much
greater extent than it would the incumbents.
Betfair acknowledged that while offering inducements is a common
practice used by all types of businesses, such offerings should be done 'responsibly',
and suggested limits on free bet amounts:
Wagering operators, like any other legal business, have the
right to advertise their services responsibly. The offering of inducements is
common place and legitimate for all types of businesses and as such, operators
should be permitted to offer inducements to open a betting account - provided
such offerings are responsible.
The increasing level of competition in Australia's online and
offline gambling market has seen the proliferation of promotions offering free
bets to new customers. Betfair does not believe that a free bet, of itself,
encourages problem gambling, but we believe that bets should be limited to $50.
At a public hearing, committee members questioned Betfair about the
practice of offering inducements to bet. Mr Andrew Twaits, Chief Executive
Officer, explained that the company offered 'terms of trade' to a small number
of customers, similar to the 'credit betting' practice covered in chapter 11:
Senator XENOPHON: Does Betfair provide credit or
inducements to gamble?
Mr Twaits: Not in the sense that bookmakers
traditionally provide credit. We are not allowed to provide unsolicited credit,
if you like, to customers; however, like the TABs we are able to provide terms
of trade to our more sophisticated corporate type customers who are approved by
the Gaming Commission. There are about 20 of those customers.
Senator XENOPHON: So apart from those 20 with Gaming
Commission approval, you cannot make a commercial decision to say, 'We're going
to give you $10,000 in credit'?
Mr Twaits: No.
When asked about whether the company offered inducements to open a
betting account, Betfair told the committee that 'in the past we would have
offered a free cap or $50 in your account if you open an account with Betfair'.
In relation to offering free credits or free bets, the company said:
Mr Blanksby: Certain jurisdictions do not allow it and
do not allow the advertising of it, so we ensure that any offerings we make
abide by that legislation.
Senator BILYK: But in the jurisdictions where it is
allowed, do you do it?
Mr Twaits: We do. Generally up to $50 or $100—$200
maybe—depending on the potential size of the customer.
The committee then questioned Betfair on how the offering of free
credits or bets to customers is determined:
Senator BILYK: If you do offer free credits, how do
you determine that you [are] going to offer them to the customers?
Mr Blanksby: The promotion is usually done on an
action of the customer. Usually you want the customer to place a bet with us on
a certain event and that will trigger their credit...
Senator BILYK: So why don't you offer free credits to
Mr Twaits: It costs money to offer those benefits. Our
system is quite complex compared to the run of the mill bookmaker or the TAB.
Sometimes we have problems educating people on how the back and lay system
works, how a lay bet works. Even for experienced punters it is quite hard. The
free bets we offer are typically targeted to reactivation or encourage them to
experience the full—
Senator BILYK: If someone has not used their account
Mr Twaits: Potentially that and sometimes, even if
they are quite active, to encourage them to take advantage of a broader range
of benefits that we think Betfair has to offer.
Other submitters argued that inducements to bet were aggressive and
needed restrictions. For example, the Social Issues Executive of the Anglican
Diocese of Sydney put forward its concerns about trends:
...towards anonymous, individual gambling contexts which lack
social accountability and which make it more difficult for problem gamblers to
separate themselves from situations in which problem gambling behaviours can be
exercised. Inducements to bet online are thus a cause for concern as they
promote this shift and endorse gambling opportunities for individuals that are
not mediated by a social context.
Mr Christopher Hunt of the University of Sydney Gambling Treatment
Clinic also stated that inducements to gamble have the potential to hinder the
recovery efforts of existing problem gamblers:
I have a client, who I saw this week, for example, who was
trying to cut down and then the gambling site gave him a free $50 and that got
him into a spiral where he ended up losing considerably more than that. While
it might not contribute to someone becoming a problem gambler it definitely exacerbates
the problem of already existing problem gamblers.
Regulation of inducements to bet
Significant discrepancies exist in the regulation of inducements to bet
across states and territories. For example, the Queensland Government noted
that there has been discussion of a national approach to inducements to bet for
some years. However, no agreement has yet been arrived at:
Inducements to bet on sporting events have been discussed at
a national level both through the Australasian Racing Ministers Conference and
through the National Wagering Advertising Working Party.
It is understood that at a meeting of the Australasian Racing
Ministers Conference in December 2008, state and territory Ministers indicated
their support for a national approach to prohibiting the advertising of
inducements to open new wagering accounts.
Specifically, a prohibition on offers of any credit, voucher
or reward as an inducement to participate, or to participate frequently, in any
gambling activity or to open a betting account was supported.
At a meeting of the National Wagering Advertising Working
Party in December 2010, participants raised that the definition of ‘inducement’ could be open to interpretation and suggested a nationally consistent
definition be adopted.
The offering of inducements for gambling is not unlawful in
Queensland. However, given that online gambling has no jurisdictional
boundaries and there is a need for constitutional adherence with free trade
requirements, if restrictions are to be placed on inducements to bet on
sporting events online, a consistent national approach is warranted.
The Australian Internet Bookmakers Association (AIBA) argued that recent
moves by states and territories to restrict certain types of inducements to bet
had not been 'evidence-based':
Recently, some States and Territories prohibited Australian
operators from offering modest “signup bonuses” to those who open new accounts - the “$100 free bet” offer. This
had been labelled an improper inducement to gamble.
Offers such as this must be kept in perspective.
“Cash-back” offers and giveaways are a
standard (and unremarkable) feature of the marketing of all businesses.
In the case of gambling sites, the “free bet” or other “bonus” offers are a
practical way of appealing to the market.
This is not a new concept, with “free bets” and bonuses
having become so prevalent in the global internet gambling industry, they are
now the subject of specialist websites and services that compare the bonuses on
As this is global practice, with various forms of bonuses
being offered by all major operators, a ban on Australian operators matching
these modest offers has had the effect of making the Australian industry less
competitive in the global market but at the same time making overseas operators
more attractive to Australian punters.
Furthermore, it appears that the impetus for such a step was
less a concern about problem gambling, and more a desire to protect TABs from
The committee wrote to state and territory regulators asking them to
outline their rules around the offering of inducements to bet. Responses were
received from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western
Australia, Tasmania, and the ACT. Responses varied, demonstrating a range of
different rules in place across jurisdictions.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation stated that Section
4.7.10 of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 made it an offence for a
wagering service provider to offer any credit, voucher or reward as an
inducement to open a betting account.
New South Wales has similar restrictions.
In South Australia, the relevant responsible gambling codes of practice (not
legislation) prohibit the SA TAB, bookmakers and authorised interstate betting
operators from offering inducements.
Queensland reported that there were no prohibitions on licensees
regarding the offering of inducements, whereas in Tasmania, Western Australia
and the ACT only certain types of inducements were prohibited.
As an international example, the UK Gambling Commission noted that under
its licensing arrangements, inducements to bet were regulated in the following
The code aims to balance operators’ legitimate use of
inducements and other marketing incentives to differentiate themselves from
competitors and to attract customers against the risk that the inducements are
frustrating the licensing objectives (for example, by encouraging loss-chasing).
For example, a promotion that encourages people to gamble by requiring them to
spend a minimum amount within a relatively short period of time to qualify for
rewards would be of concern.
Clubs Australia expressed its concern about inducements, viewing them as
'particularly dangerous'. It advised that in Victoria, New South Wales and
South Australia, the advertising of incentive bonuses to sign up is prohibited
and that despite this regulation, operators continue to promote these sign up
The committee acknowledges the recent action by the Victorian Commission for
Gambling Regulation which has charged four operators with allegedly offering
illegal incentives to open betting accounts.
Sportsbet case—free bets
To demonstrate the danger of incentives, the committee notes the case of
a Melbourne man with a mental illness who ran up $80,000 in debts with
Sportsbet, which was canvassed at one of the committee's public hearings. According
to media reports, the man claimed he was lured in by the offer of $5,000 in
free bets. He then accepted thousands of dollars worth of credit to continue
The evidence from Sportsbet on the case was covered at the end of chapter 11 in
the sections on credit betting and the payment of commissions to third parties.
The provision of free bets presents risks and the committee is
unconvinced that all inducements to bet should be treated as simply standard
advertising practice. With a riskier product such as a gambling service, such
inducements and 'free bets' can lead to significant financial problems, such as
those experienced by Sportsbet's client who lost $80,000. This case
demonstrates how dangerous the combination of free bets and the provision of
credit can be. Along with rules on advertising in general, regulations covering
such practices appear to be inconsistent between jurisdictions.
At the end of this chapter, the committee makes a recommendation on a
national code of conduct which covers inducements to bet. The development of
consistent standards on inducements to bet should take into consideration the
risks posed by inducements to encourage consumers to chase losses or spend a
certain amount in a short period to qualify for rewards.
Sponsorship of sports
For many sporting codes, sports betting and the advertising of sports
betting services are a lucrative source of income.
According to media reports, Tabcorp and Betfair have deals with the AFL worth
more than $2 million annually. In addition, more than 20 other betting agencies
pay a dividend of their AFL-related takings to the league and many clubs have
sponsorship deals with wagering companies.
For example, TAB Sportsbet is a major sponsor of the Collingwood AFL club.
Restricting access to revenue derived from sports betting could have
some financial and commercial implications for these sporting codes. However,
sporting codes are also concerned about the erosion of the sports experience
for fans if advertising of sports betting becomes too prominent.
The Australian Christian Lobby drew attention to the obvious sponsorship
links between popular sporting clubs and gambling providers:
In addition to the promotion by commentators and at grounds
during the game, sport teams are commonly sponsored by gambling providers – for
example, the NRL’s Canberra Raiders are sponsored by prominent poker machine
venue the Tradies Club, while the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL and the St Kilda
Saints in the AFL are sponsored by Centrebet.
Leagues Clubs Australia's submission described the extent of betting
agencies' sponsorship of major Australian sports:
The major Sports betting agencies have commercial agreements
with sport governing bodies such as the NRL, AFL, Cricket Australia, Tennis
Australia, PGA and V8 Supercars Australia as well as sponsorships with
individual AFL teams such as Carlton (Sportingbet), St Kilda (Centrebet) and
Richmond (Tabcorp), NRL teams such as St George Illawarra, Manly, Penrith,
North Queensland, Parramatta (all Centrebet) and Brisbane (Sportingbet).
These collective agreements result in maximum exposure at
sporting grounds (electronic scoreboards and fence advertising), during
televised sport on free to air, pay TV and radio (including live odds during
games), high exposure in the print media (newspapers & sporting magazines)
as well as via the internet and mobile phones.
Some of the sponsorship deals that have raised concerns provide cash
incentives to fans in return for signing up a friend with a particular betting
agency. Anti-gambling campaigner Rev. Tim Costello has described these sorts of
deals as 'disgraceful'.
The AFL club Collingwood and its major partner, TAB Sportsbet, recently launched
a competition where fans who bet a minimum of $5 through TAB Sportsbet were
offered the chance to win a spot in the Collingwood coach's box at a match. TAB
Sportsbet denied the promotion was designed to encourage fans to open betting
account 'as that is illegal in Victoria'.
Other AFL clubs have arrangements in place with BetEzy, an online
bookmaker licensed in the Northern Territory. For example, the club websites
for the Adelaide Crows, the Melbourne Demons and the Essendon Bombers provide
links (under 'Tipping') to 'CrowsBet', 'DeesBet' and 'Bombersbet', offering
club members a 'VIP service for VIP clients' with the opportunity to bet on a
broad range of Australian and international racing and sporting events.
David Scharwz, a former AFL player and recovering problem gambler,
argued on SBS TV's Insight program that gambling advertising during
sport was 'out [of] control':
It's too skewiff, it's too out of kilter with what society is
thinking...Whilst money is coming in from betting agencies to government, to
the codes, to the associations they are almost drunk on it. It's that
The rise in corporate sponsorship of sport by gambling companies
internationally was described at length by Dr McMullan:
...both offline and online gambling providers have
increasingly used sport sponsorship as a marketing platform deploying huge
investments of money to recruit and retain consumers (Binde, 2007; Monaghan et
al., 2008). This sponsorship has included reaching people by putting posters in
bars during National Football League (NFL) games, running billboard ads during
college basketball tournaments, displaying racy billboards featuring models on
the sides of trucks parked in the lots outside sport events, posting website
addresses to gamble on women’s swimwear, and promoting corporate brands on team
uniforms and replica promotional products (McMullan & Miller, 2008).
According to Monaghan et al. (2008), corporate sponsorship deals in Premier
League soccer in the United Kingdom, for example, have “increased from 2006 to
2007 by 25% to approximately £70 million” (p. 256). Gambling providers, in
turn, have directed their viewing and listening audiences on their advertising
slots and programs to watch sport programs such as soccer qualifiers, baseball
events, tennis matches, snooker tournaments and the like.
He also highlighted the increasing dependence of sport on sponsorship
from gambling providers:
Most recently, the European Parliament has acknowledged that
sports in their jurisdictions are increasingly dependent on gambling as a
primary source of revenue resulting in more promotional products being sold,
more in-store product sales taking place and more celebrity endorsements
occurring where the naming rights, brands and logos of gambling companies are
associated directly with sporting teams and venues as selling techniques.
Indeed some sport icons have been promoting preferred gambling sites by wearing
branded merchandize available for purchase, offering their legendary status as
prizes to tournament winners and sponsoring their own worthy causes through
gambling. The sales pitch has been to twin gambling with sport culture and to
encourage consumers to purchase the myth of gambling as a sport, an approach
that has been especially appealing to adolescents in several countries (Dyall
et al., 2007; Korn et el., 2005; Maher et al., 2006; McMullan & Miller,
2008; Monaghan et al., 2008).
Dr McMullan also pointed out the risks posed by the close relationship between
sports and gambling and its effects on young people:
...learning about gambling through sport programming on
television and the internet promotional products such as clothing, electronic
gear and travel accessories, and sale ads and billboards at actual sport venues
(Korn et al., 2005). Indeed Monaghan et al. (2008) suggest that merchandizing
gambling through sports poses “a direct risk to youth at a developmental age
that makes them susceptible to influence” (p. 257) and a New Zealand study
states that gambling advertisers have created “unhealthy sponsorships” with
gambling providers that excessively expose and normalize their products to
young people (Maher, Wilson, Signal & Thompson, 2006).
Dr Declan Hill has called sponsorship of sporting clubs by betting providers
'dancing with the devil':
These kinds of relationships must be watched very, very
closely. If the gambling industry wants to bet on sports events, then they
should be footing the bill for the integrity units and anti-corruption
activities, including higher salaries and better pensions for players.
You are always going to have some idiot who will take a
bribe. But the trick is to bring levels of corruption down to where it is
simply the odd psychotic thug who will do these things. What Australia must avoid
are the levels of corruption in some Asian sports leagues, where it is as
common for a fan to watch a fixed match as a normally played one.
Dr Gainsbury and Professor Alex Blaszczynski noted the 'symbiotic'
relationship between internet betting services and sporting clubs:
Partnerships between Internet gambling corporations and
sporting associations appear to be quite symbiotic as costs associated with
sports increase and sports fans represent an ideal market for online gambling
(Lamont et al., 2011). Although mandated and self-regulated codes of conduct
restrict the involvement of other “non-healthy” products including tobacco,
alcohol, and junk food, little attention has been paid to the potential harm
caused by sports sponsorship from Internet gambling corporations. Some
jurisdictions, including the UK, have prohibited the placement of gambling
corporation logos on promotional merchandise, in recognition of the potential
risk posed to vulnerable populations. The prominent exposure of gambling products
normalises this activity and associates it with healthy activities and role
models posing a direct risk to youth who are susceptible to influence (Monaghan
& Derevensky, 2008; Monaghan et al., 2008).
Their submission therefore recommended that:
The involvement of Internet gambling sites in the sponsorship
of sporting teams and events should be carefully considered and regulated to
reduce any risks of exposure to vulnerable populations.
Extent of sports betting advertising during sporting events
As noted earlier, one of the key issues raised during the inquiry was
the view that there has been a proliferation of sports betting advertising over
recent years. The committee was told
about relevant research being conducted by Dr Samantha Thomas and Associate
Professor Colin McLeod and invited them to a hearing to speak about their work
on gambling advertising and sports betting. These studies included the
frequency, length and content of online betting advertising in sporting
stadiums and during sporting broadcasts, and the effectiveness of harm
minimisation messages in gambling advertising. In addition, Dr Thomas has
conducted qualitative research with a range of gamblers on their
conceptualisations of risk.
A summary of the research and findings is provided below.
Dr Thomas and Associate Professor McLeod found that marketing strategies
are embedded in the game itself at stadiums and also in television broadcasting
and that sponsorship adds another layer to these marketing strategies. In
addition to gambling advertisements at the match, sponsorship is visible on banners
(including run through banners), player uniforms and fan jerseys. There are
also pop up messages at the stadiums and during broadcasting which encourage
people to 'bet now'. This leads to a troubling convergence of aggressive
gambling advertising and the technology which allows people to bet in real
Effect of exposure to gambling
advertising on children
The high level of in-venue advertising is of concern to the committee
because spectators are a captive audience. Sporting matches are promoted as
'family friendly', yet the environment exposes children to a very high level of
marketing for an adult product.
In this context, the committee notes with concern the information
provided to the committee indicating that children are vulnerable to the
gambling advertising messages and that we do not know the long-term effect of
this level of exposure.
The committee discussed the role of parents to educate children about
the risks and benefits of gambling, noting this argument is made by gambling
and parents as role models. Dr Thomas commented:
As a sociologist I think that no longer can we say that
parents are the most influential role model on children and their behaviours.
Now young people are exposed and have access to so much outside of their
parents that we are seeing a whole new level of influence on behaviour and
particularly on risk and risk perceptions.
Long-term effects on children have not been studied but Dr Thomas and
Associate Professor McLeod described the following developments already evident
for children. The advertising to a captive audience promotes an adult product
in what is considered to be a family environment. Children are exposed to this
marketing. Dr Thomas emphasised that while the advertising is not directly marketed
to children and children cannot consume the product, they are absorbing the
In addition, the constant promotion of live odds updates at matches and within
game play during broadcasts may have a normalising effect on children. This is
because there is a blurring between advertising and the game so children may
consider the live odds, for example, to be part of the game.
The committee discussed with Dr Thomas what the effects might be over
the long term. Although there is currently no available research, Dr Thomas
thought an educated guess would be possible based on the effects of tobacco,
alcohol and junk food advertising:
We can probably make an educated guess, that, as with those
products, kids are being softened to this. It is becoming part of their
talk...Kids are consuming these messages. They are consuming the brands. What we
do not know is what long-term impact it is having on them and what will happen
over time in terms of encouraging them to engage in gambling...
The committee notes that the boundaries between sports betting
advertising and the game are being blurred. It is concerned that sports betting
is becoming normalised for children and that they consider it to be just part
of the sport. One of the main ways this occurs is the through the live odds
announcements, particularly those that occur within the match or game play. The
committee heard how odds are now embedded in conversations about sport. With
constant consumption of gambling advertising by children who follow sport,
where they are subjected to high levels of gambling advertising, the long-term
effects are unknown. The committee's view on live odds promotion is discussed
in greater detail later in this chapter.
At this point, the committee recommends further research into these
trends to determine what effects such promotions may be having on children.
Until such time as a national independent research institute on gambling (as
recommended in chapter two and in the committee's previous report) can
undertake this work, the COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform should
commission this work. (In chapter 16, the committee makes a broader
recommendation on legislative action to restrict gambling advertising during
children's viewing times).
12.62 The committee recommends that the COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform
commission further research on the longer-term effects of gambling advertising
on children, particularly in relation to the 'normalisation' of gambling during
Effects of gambling advertising on young men
Dr Thomas and Associate Professor McLeod discussed with the committee
their qualitative research findings which shed light on the way in which sports
betting advertising has contributed to young men watching sport through a
These young men were aware that gambling advertising was being deliberately marketed
towards their demographic. They described the aggressive tactics used in
advertising in 'war metaphors'; for example, feeling bombarded, targeted, or
unable to escape it.
Gambling appears to be increasingly normalised for young men, with
discussions about odds regularly included in conversations about sport. Some
young men feel pressured to bet by their peers and the committee heard of an
emerging trend where groups of young men choose a neutral sporting event to
attend with their peers, specifically to gamble on it. This was highlighted to
the committee as an unusual trend, as often gambling advertising was targeted
to a fan's sense of team loyalty.
The advertising is appealing to these young men in a number of ways. It
taps into team loyalty, knowledge of the game and self-identity. Associate
Professor McLeod elaborated:
The way in which a lot of the promotion around gambling is
pitched is: 'Show us how smart you are, show as that you really belong'. So
there is a normative thing but it is also about your own sense of loyalty to
the team that you follow—you are not a fan unless you are gambling on the team.
There is also the idea that you understand the game better than anyone else and
if you do gamble on the team then you are probably going to win.
In addition, Dr Thomas explained how betting companies were deliberately
'softening' the language used to advertise their services:
You will never hear the gambling industry use the word
'gambling'. It talks about betting and punting and so on, and punting in
particular. There is the softening of language; a slow embedding within
conversations, but again within our research we are seeing this purely with
Along with the advertising messages which appeal to young men, the
research found that young men are attracted to inducements to bet, such as the
offer of free bets or other such incentives to open an account. Young men believed
that they were taking advantage of and could exploit the industry with their
knowledge of sport and skill in betting. For example, the research found
numerous examples of young men who opened multiple betting accounts but who
still felt they were in control and were taking advantage of something that was
being given away for free.
Read the fine print
Given that young men appear to believe they are taking advantage of the
inducements to bet, it is important to note that reading the terms and
conditions, or the 'fine print', is essential to understanding the offer as the
details are not usually presented in the advertisements. For example, a recent
Betstar 'join up' offer of $500 free bets actually offered a free bet of 20 per
cent of the original deposit up to a maximum of $500. To reach $500, it was
conditional on a minimum $2,500 deposit which had to be spent within 30 days
with restrictions on the kinds of bets that could be placed. These conditions
were not presented in the advertisements for the offer. In addition, unless customers
read the terms and conditions they would not be aware the offer was not
available in Victoria or South Australia.
The terms and conditions specify:
1. Upon funding the newly registered account the account
holder will be eligible to receive a free bet being 20% of their initial
deposit, to a maximum of $500.
2. To be eligible for the Betstar Sign Up Bonus, the initial
deposit must be turned over and the bonus must be redeemed within 30 days of
the account being opened. If the offer is not redeemed within the 30 days, the
offer is void. Kindly note qualifying turnover must be placed on outcomes at a
dividend of $1.20 or greater and does not include turnover on $2
3. The Betstar sign up bonus is only available to Australian
residents, however due to legislative requirements, Victorian and South Australian
residents are not eligible to receive the Betstar Sign Up Bonus...
Another example is an offer from Luxbet.com of a $100 first deposit
bonus. However, the following conditions apply:
The Bonus must be wagered as a single bet on a fixed odds
market with a dividend of greater than or equal to $1.50 per $1 bet.
If the Bonus returns a winning dividend, those winnings
(excluding the Bonus stake) will be credited to your Luxbet betting account.
Each Bonus and any winnings accrued from the Bonus must be
turned over at least once (x1) for a Bonus up to and including $250 and at
least twice (x2) for a Bonus of greater than $250 on bets with a dividend of
greater than or equal to $1.50 per $1 bet within 90 days before you can
withdraw the Bonus or any winnings from your Luxbet bonus bet account or Luxbet
betting account (the Minimum Turnover Threshold)...
The committee also received a further example from an individual who
created a Centrebet account just to place a bet on the Melbourne Cup. After
reading the terms and conditions closely, the person thought they were eligible
for the advertised $200 bonus offer but were advised that they were not as the
bonus was only paid on the first 'stake', which they felt was unclear. Then
when they attempted to close down the account they were asked for a Medicare, passport
or drivers licence number to do so. The submitter pointed out that they were
not asked to provide such details to create the account and indicated that had
they known such information was required at the outset, they would not have
created the account.
The committee notes that exposure to gambling advertising is a public
health issue. Some groups, such as young men appear to be particularly
vulnerable. The need for responsible gambling messages to counter the messages
in online sports betting advertising is discussed below. The need for
consistent legislation around inducements to bet is also discussed below.
Effectiveness of harm minimisation messages
Given the high level of advertising by online gambling providers, it is
timely that Dr Thomas
has also conducted research on the awareness of and recall of harm minimisation
messages that are currently present in television commercials for online
gambling products. This research used eye tracking software to investigate
whether 166 students saw and recalled a responsible gambling message in
broadcast advertisements for three online betting companies.
The study found that overall, 60 per cent of individuals did not see any
responsible gambling or gamblers help message in the three advertisements.
However, there were differences in recall for each advertisement. In addition,
no students were able to either recall the message in full, or recall the 1300
Gamblers Help helpline number. The differences in recall for each advertisement
could be due to the different presentation of the messages. For example, in the
Tom Waterhouse commercial there is a different colour scheme and the message is
displayed in the middle of the advertisement rather than at the end of the
advertisement, which makes it less likely to be seen.
Dr Thomas suggested that there needed to be greater consistency in
standards applied to the presentation of harm minimisation messages in
advertising. For example, reference to a phone help-line could be mandated; the
font size and length of the message could be standardised; clear references
could be made to the likelihood of losing money. Dr Thomas argued that such messages
were valuable from a public health perspective:
...I think they are in-principle messages that we need to
have there. They make a strong statement that we need those there; that we need
counterframing on those ads. This is kind of like the old days of cigarettes
when we used to have that tiny little warning on the packet...
It needs to be more clearly signposted and for a longer
period. Will people act on that information? Maybe or maybe not, but it is the
first step and then directing people towards a suite of help services and so on
that can help them if they need that...
Do not forget that those messages are not really geared
towards problem gamblers. They are aimed towards people who are bordering on
risky gambling behaviours. They are the little reminder ones...
To support the need for greater consistency in standards, the committee
notes a recent media article which reported that some betting companies showed
'contempt' for the requirement to provide responsible gambling messages.
Uniting Care Wesley manager Mr Mark Henley said that a complaint had been
lodged with the South Australian Independent Gambling Authority in March 2011
about a company whose radio advertising concluded with the fast delivery of the
message: 'Gamble responsibly, don't drink too much and be nice to your
mother'. Mr Henley observed: 'The wording coupled with the delivery is
clearly, in my opinion, applying ridicule to the requirement...to include a
responsible gambling message'.
The committee notes that responsible gambling messages support a public
health approach to preventing and minimising harm. They are a reminder about
risky gambling behaviour. The committee supports the use of responsible
gambling messages from a public health perspective to counter the amount of
sports betting advertising. While such messages will never be able to compete
with the slick advertising campaigns funded by the industry, the committee
agrees that further work is necessary to ensure these messages are as effective
as possible. To increase effectiveness there should be greater consistency of
standards such as size, duration, colour and they should include references to
the likelihood of losing money.
12.77 The committee recommends that the COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform
work towards nationally consistent requirements for responsible gambling
messages to ensure they work effectively as harm minimisation measures to
counter-balance the promotion of gambling.
Binge gambling not currently
Dr Thomas told the committee that during the interviews, they heard
about periods of 'binge gambling':
...we are certainly seeing patterns of binge gambling with
young men where they may not bet the whole year but they bet excessively during
grand final week or they put an excessive amount of money on who will win the
Brownlow or the Coleman or so on.
She pointed out that binge gambling is not measured by current screening
tools as it may be event-specific. These individuals may score very low on
gambling screening tools (such as the Problem Gambling Severity Index) but the
researchers heard that some then struggle to pay bills and spend the rest of
the year trying to recover from their losses. Dr Thomas explained that this is
a weakness with the current screening tools that needs to be addressed.
The committee believes that being able to measure binge gambling would
be helpful in order to assess whether this behaviour is increasing and whether
any targeted harm minimisation measures could be effective. Rather than revise
the current screening tools, the committee suggests this could be achieved by
including some additional questions designed to capture and measure this
Problem gambling associated with advertising of sports betting
The committee received evidence that the heavy promotion of sports
betting was associated with experiences of problem gambling.
The University of Sydney Gambling Treatment Clinic's submission outlined
the degree to which its clients with problem gambling behaviours had been
affected by sports betting advertising:
Our clients consistently report that the promotion of sports
betting has contributed to the onset and maintenance of their gambling
problems. Firstly, almost all sports betting clients report they began by
gambling on sports that they had previously followed or had participated in. By
watching sports on television, or checking scores through other media outlets,
they report that they were frequently exposed to promotion of betting and prices
that outlets were giving for various betting combinations. Many of our clients
reported that they observed advertisements encouraging them to bet and
portraying sports gamblers winners who were able to have a better time with
friends, and that promoted the idea that they may actually become a deeper
supporter of the sport through wagering. Advertisements of this ilk appeared to
have led many of our clients to believe that they could turn their knowledge
and interest in their favourite sports into a supplementary income source. This
idea, that one can use knowledge and interest to wager successfully, is also
widely promoted in media reports on betting on non-sporting events (e.g.
elections, reality television contests). Major media outlets frequently run stories
on the betting markets in non-sporting areas, which emphasise the (false)
belief, central to the development of gambling problems, that there is easy
money to be made if you know something about an upcoming event. Invariably
though, they begin to lose more money than they win, and turn to other sports
to try to recoup the money that they lost during their initial betting outlays.
The Clinic also noted that some of its clients, after trying to take
action to deal with their own problem gambling behaviour, can often no longer
watch their favourite sports without being bombarded with gambling advertising:
...the constant promotion of gambling that is tied to sports
broadcasting and reporting also becomes problematic when gamblers try to cut
back on or stop their betting. They report that they are unable to watch
previously enjoyed sports without being inundated with prices and odds, which
again encourages them to think about winning and activates their hope that they
could win back some of their losses. Over time, sports gamblers report that
they no longer enjoy watching or reading about sports, because the focus of
their attention is no longer about the different aspects of the sport, but
rather almost exclusively on the outcome of their bet.
At a public hearing, Mr Christopher Hunt of the Clinic elaborated:
For a lot of clients we are seeing, watching sports can be
one of their favourite pastimes, so taking that away from people is a catch-22
situation. It stops them from doing something they enjoy that could stop them
thinking about gambling, but they may watch sports and think about gambling. So
it takes away an avenue for doing something different rather than gambling. It
can make it difficult to give up gambling when one of your previously enjoyed pastimes
is now no longer an avenue for you to get some relaxation or enjoyment.
Dr Gainsbury and Professor Blaszczynski also pointed out the hazardous
influence that aggressive marketing was exerting over the youth market:
Advertising and aggressive promotion of online sports betting
plays a significant role in the influencing participation rates among youth.
This is evidenced in anecdotal reports among some treatment providers of a
rapid escalation in young males presenting for treatment for excessive sports
betting. The trend is apparent that lucrative gambling contracts and
sponsorship of sporting clubs and television broadcasts is now replacing
alcohol and tobacco sponsorship. The same arguments that has led to the banning
of alcohol and tobacco sponsorship of sporting activities applies equally to
gambling; namely influencing the attitudes and behaviour of youth to encourage
gambling behaviour resulting in the emergence of a problem gambling and harm
within this vulnerable sub-population within the community.
Dr Jeffrey Derevensky told the committee of his deep concern about the
blurring of advertising and sports wagering and its potential impact on youth.
Using the example of live odds commentary, he stated:
I do believe that many adolescents will certainly be
influenced by commentators' recommendations for where to place a wager. This is
particularly concerning to me. Rather than just commenting on the football
game, they are talking about the odds and the probabilities. This influences
young people to gamble and place bets. I worked with a sports announcer who on
one Sunday lost 12 out of 13 games. He said broadcasting sports was his
livelihood and he knew everything about sports. He knew who had had a fight
with his girlfriend, who had broken his arm, but even he could not pick a
winner. He said: 'If I had a monkey throwing a dart at a board, the monkey
probably would have done better.' You have sports announcers and sports teams
promoting different kinds of gambling. I think that is particularly problematic.
A recent Newspoll survey of 1,200 Australians aged 18 to 64 found that
63 per cent believed that sports betting advertising contributed to an
increase in problem gambling, with one in 10 stating that advertising by sports
betting agencies was more harmful to the community than alcohol or tobacco
The survey, organised by PR agency Crossman Communications, also found
that the younger generation was less concerned about the marketing practices of
betting agencies. Ms Jackie Crossman, Managing Director, observed:
The 18 to 34 age bracket is almost three times more likely to
have a regular bet than those aged 50 plus and they are considerably more
laissez-faire and opposed to controls on sports betting agencies.
It used to be that we enjoyed a flutter on the Melbourne Cup
and had the odd spin on the pokies. But the introduction of more exotic options
and the promotion of odds and options at venues during coverage has normalised
sports betting for younger segments of society.
When such sophisticated marketing practices become mainstream
it is extremely difficult to turn back the tide...and young males are the ones
happily riding the waves.
Promotion of 'live odds' during sport
The committee heard there was considerable community concern about the
practice of announcing 'live odds' at sporting events and during broadcasts.
This normally involves sporting commentators—some of them respected former
players—or representatives of betting agencies providing live updates on the odds
prior to or during an event. The in-game advertising of live odds is seen as
Showing the level of concern in the community over this practice, a
recent Newspoll survey of 1,200 Australians found that 42 per cent believed
that giving live odds during sports coverage should be illegal.
The main concern, apart from announcements interrupting enjoyment of the
game, is the effect on children. A recent discussion on the Insight
program on SBS TV illustrated one parent's views on the merits of broadcasting
of live odds during sports coverage when children were likely to be watching:
...my seven-year-old son is seeing those exact same odds and
they are filtering down into his mind and it's normalised gambling as a
seven-year-old. It's great for you as a punter. You can walk into the TAB at
the football and check out those odds. It's not that I have problem with them
being in an accessible location to adults who can understand it, but how can
you say it's acceptable and it's a good thing to have them up on the screen for
everyone to see. 
Government plans to reduce 'live odds' promotion during sport
On 27 May 2011, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services
and Indigenous Affairs, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP, the Minister for Broadband,
Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, and the
Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, announced the federal
government's intention to work with the sporting and betting industries to 'reduce
and control' the promotion of live odds during sporting broadcasts:
The Government will work with the sporting and betting
industries to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during sports
coverage through amendments to their existing industry codes.
If satisfactory amendments are not in place by the end of
June 2012, the Australian Government will consider the need for legislation,
noting that the measures would not apply to pre-existing contracts for the
promotion of live odds during sports coverage as of 1am today [27 May 2011].
This course of action had been agreed at the meeting of the COAG Select
Council on Gambling Reform on the same day. The COAG communiqué stated:
Governments are concerned that promotion, including
commentary by sporting role models, is becoming insidious in live sports
coverage. We are concerned that this can significantly influence vulnerable and
young people and normalise gambling behaviour.
Ministers agreed that consultation on the scope of the measures would be
undertaken with industry. However, governments agreed that the racing industry
would be exempt 'due to its long standing integral connection with wagering'.
The NSW Government's submission supported the announcement on reducing the
promotion of live odds, noting it would reduce the potentially harmful effects
on young people:
The NSW Government shared research findings with the COAG
Select Council on Gambling Reform confirming the potential harmful effects of
this form of advertising, particularly for young people significantly influenced
by advertising associated with their favourite media/sporting personalities.
The use of commentators and sporting role models to promote gambling and
discuss betting odds can normalise gambling and influence vulnerable and young
people in an adverse manner. This approach is at odds with broadcasting codes
of practice in relation to alcohol and tobacco advertising aimed at protecting
children from exposure to adult activities.
Betting agencies such as Sportsbet and Betfair have publicly supported
the government's moves in this area.
The committee notes that sporting grounds such as the MCG have also announced
that they are moving towards eliminating live odds from their scoreboards.
The AIBA did acknowledge that the government announcement on reducing
promotion of live odds 'achieves a proper balance between improper advertising
and acceptable advertising'.
Harm minimisation messages
Dr Thomas from Monash University, whose research on gambling advertising
and sports betting was described earlier in the chapter, pointed out that her
work found that live odds announcements were a relatively small part of the
overall marketing for online betting agencies at the game. However, the
research found that the only clear harm minimisation messages that were either
visible or audible were given during the live odds announcements. She pointed
out that this has important implications for the work underway to reduce and
control the live odds announcements, as it will mean there will be fewer
opportunities for the only clear responsible gambling message to appear.
Therefore, consideration is needed on how best to ensure responsible gambling
messages are included in all sports betting advertising.
While the committee welcomes the reduction of live odds announcements, it
notes that uncertainty remains regarding the scope of the ban. While numerous
of the government's announcement described a plan to 'phase out' live odds
altogether, the committee notes that Senator Conroy has stated there will be
discussions with broadcasters about the scope of a ban, which may be limited to
the duration of a sporting event and not include pre-match and half-time
12.100 The committee
believes that the level of concern in the community about this practice is
sufficient to warrant the total ban of the promotion of live odds both at
venues and during the broadcast of a match (which includes pre-match coverage).
Information on betting odds will still be easily available through websites,
TABs and other betting outlets at stadiums.
12.101 The committee
recommends that the government legislate a total ban of the promotion of live
odds both at venues and during the broadcast of a sporting event.
12.102 The committee
also agrees that there needs to be an investigation of how best to ensure the
inclusion of responsible gambling messages in the marketing for online betting
12.103 The committee
recommends that the work to legislate a total ban on live odds promotion also ensures
that responsible gambling messages are retained as a harm minimisation measure
and continue to appear as a counterpoint to other instances of gambling
advertising, both in venues and during sporting broadcasts.
Calls for further action on advertising
12.104 A number of
submitters suggested that further restrictions on advertising, beyond the promotion
of live odds, were required.
12.105 Dr Gainsbury and
Professor Blaszczynski welcomed the government's moves to work cooperatively
with industry to reduce live odds broadcasting; however, they also advocated
legislation to underpin such policy directions:
...unless strict policies are mandated by legislation there
will remain temptations to utilise funds provided by online gambling providers
through creative avenues allowing continued marketing and promotions. Regulators
must carefully consider and set limits on the degree to which online gambling may be promoted during sporting events with clear
penalties that are enforced for teams, individuals and event organisers that do
not abide by these policies.
12.106 Similarly, the
University of Sydney Gambling Treatment Clinic favoured:
A banning of, or at least much tighter regulation of, the
promotion of online gambling in sports broadcasting, either directly through
advertisement and sponsorship, or indirectly through well placed media stories
and commentator’s remarks.
12.107 The Australian
Christian Lobby also welcomed this initial step by authorities to regulate
sports betting advertising but felt that much more could be done in this area:
Although prohibiting the promotion of gambling odds by
commentators is a positive start, further regulation of other forms of gambling
advertising in sport would be an appropriate additional measure to further
limit the potential harms of gambling. This would be consistent with the policy
behind the current move, and would help to slow the growing view of gambling as
an inherent feature of sport.
ACL recommends that, in addition to advertising during
broadcasting, the government regulate the broader advertising methods of
gambling companies, particularly sponsorship of sporting teams, venues, and
12.108 Dr McMullan also
advocated further restrictions on advertising activity:
A responsible advertising program would restrict companies
that generate their revenues primarily from gambling to promote or advertise
their organizations or products, including branding, logos or naming rights
through the sponsorship of sporting figures or teams who are under the age of
majority. Products advertising gambling – shirts, shoes, hats, belts, travel
bags, etc. – should not be sized for minors, be awarded as prizes or given away
in free promotions. Furthermore, gambling providers should be discouraged from
advertising their products directly through amateur sport sponsorship and
encouraged to act with charitable intentions by providing money to independent
government operated agencies who, in turn, can supply funds to sporting events,
community teams and individual athletes. Moreover real winners, or models and
actors portraying real winners, should not be deployed to promote or advertise
internet gambling products. Gambling providers and advertisers should not
utilize celebrity endorsements that are likely to appeal to youth, and only be
permitted to use them at locations and on time slots primarily frequented and
viewed by adults and in a manner that does not suggest that gambling
contributed to their success (Dyall et al., 2007; Maher et al., 2006; McMullan
& Miller, 2008; Monaghan et al., 2008; Poulin, 2006; RIGT, 2007).
12.109 In a Newspoll
survey of 1,200 Australians aged 18 to 64, over one third of respondents (36
per cent) wanted to ban betting agencies from sponsoring sporting teams or
12.110 However, betting
agencies argued against any further restrictions on gambling advertising during
sport. For example, Betchoice stated:
One of the most prominent points of concern in the community
in the past 12 months has been the nature of betting advertising associated
...in the context of sport, Betchoice can understand this
concern and believes there are situations in which a particular form of
advertising is inappropriate and are of the view that this is one such occasion
where the practice should not be conducted.
However, Betchoice does not support broad prohibitions on
other types of advertising (eg. during advertising breaks, sponsorship of
particular sporting teams, etc). For the reasons outlined earlier in respect of
inducements, we believe that advertising is a vital mechanism by which we can
notify customers and potential customers about our business. Given that we are
restricted from opening terrestrial outlets, this type of advertising is
critical in order for us to provide genuine competition to existing gambling
...our preferred approach is to impose restrictions requiring
adequate harm minimisation measures be in place. We believe this will be a more
effective mechanism by which operators are encouraged to implement systems that
protect those potentially at risk.
12.111 Similarly, the AIBA
argued that gambling advertising was already 'subject to strict codes of
practice' and did not contribute to problem gambling:
Advertising is not targeted at problem gamblers and there is
no evidence to suggest that it increases the rate of problem gambling per se.
It is true that as the number of sports bettors increases, the number of sports
bettors who have a gambling problem would correspondingly increase. But this is
not to say that the rate or percentage of problem gamblers in the sports
betting sector increases.
...it is recognised and acknowledged by the industry that a
small percentage of clients may develop a gambling problem. This is an ongoing
concern and the interactive sports betting industry has been proactive in
developing strategies to minimize this risk and to help those with a problem.
We do far more in this area than any other form of gambling.
But we see no evidence that the advertising of sports betting
is exacerbating or increasing the current rate of problem gambling within this
We do not see any justification for restrictions on
advertising based on this ground.
Logos on players' uniforms
12.112 Some witnesses
told the committee of their concern about the widespread use of betting
agencies' logos on professional sports players' team uniforms. A number of NRL
and AFL teams are sponsored by betting agencies, whose logos appear on the back
of football jerseys. The teams who display logos on players' uniforms include St
Kilda (Centrebet); the Manly Sea Eagles (Centrebet); and the Brisbane Broncos
12.113 In a
presentation entitled 'Building the Centrebet brand via sport', Centrebet noted
its success in NRL sponsorship (Dragons, Cowboys, Eels and Sea Eagles) and
referred to a 'free jersey campaign' which had generated 'thousands of bettors
from each club'.
12.114 Dr Derevensky
told the committee that the appearance of betting agencies' logos on athletes
clothing was a concerning practice that should be prohibited, as many of the
players are seen as heroes and role models for young people:
Senator XENOPHON: You have made reference to players
with gambling advertising on the backs of their jumpers and to advertising at
sports grounds in addition to the advertisements and broadcasts during the
broadcasts. Given that athletes are role models, as you indicated, are you
saying that there ought to be a prohibition on that sort of advertising—advertising
on the backs of players' jumpers and at sports ground—as a measure to deal with
the risks associated with youth gambling?
Prof. Derevensky: I think that is one good beginning.
It would be a wise idea to remove those logos on the backs of these sports
heroes or individuals. We know that young people look upon these people as
important role models. So I think that is one very good approach that we can
implement with very little effort.
12.115 On SBS TV's Insight
program, the father of a seven-year-old boy said that he refused to buy his son
a St Kilda AFL jersey because the major sponsor of the club was Centrebet.
12.116 During a
discussion with researchers Dr Thomas and Associate Professor McLeod, the
committee expressed concern about additional layers of advertising created
through gambling sponsorship of sporting teams. In particular, the committee
discussed shirt sponsorship. Using the example of the St Kilda AFL club and its
sponsorship by Centrebet, Dr Thomas noted the 'embedding' of gambling
advertising in fan merchandise and on players' uniforms. For example, a
Centrebet logo was clearly visible on a St Kilda jersey 438 times during
the broadcast of a St Kilda game.
12.117 The committee
acknowledges that concerns over the amount of advertising have been recognised
by sports betting agencies. The AIBA highlighted proposals from sports betting
agencies themselves on changes to certain advertising practices, including the
removal of logos from children's sports shirts and merchandise:
As to the community concern that certain types of gambling
advertising are leading to an unhealthy relationship between sports and
gambling, this has been recognised by the sports betting sector.
In May , sports betting providers including Sportsbet,
Sportingbet, Centrebet and Betfair presented a proposal to the Federal Minister
for Sport for changes to advertising practices. Importantly, these included
- Odds updates in commentary during play to be phased out
- Gambling companies sponsors logos not be permitted on
children’s replica sports shirts (a practice already applied by these
companies); and that
- Sporting clubs and gambling providers be banned from offering “white label” betting sites, e.g. Bombersbet.com.au
The companies also asked for greater enforcement of
advertising restrictions on non-licensed operators in all media,
including the internet.
It is noted that the sponsorship of sporting clubs by
gambling providers would still be permitted. Sponsorship is a valuable source
of funding for sporting organisations (many of whom claim they would be
adversely affected by proposals to amend the operation of gaming machines.)
12.118 While the
committee welcomes these proposals, particularly not permitting gambling
company logos on children's replica sports shirts, it believes that such
practices should be mandatory, apply to all betting providers and to all merchandise
targeted at children. The committee's view and a recommendation on the issue of
logos on sporting players' uniforms are at the end of this chapter.
Regulatory approaches to advertising of sports betting
12.119 A number of laws
and industry codes of conduct regulate the advertising of gambling products.
With the exception of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA),
legislation around gambling advertising is largely state-based, reflecting the
fact that wagering is an activity regulated by the jurisdictions.
12.120 For example, the
NSW Government's submission outlined its own regulatory approach to gambling
The NSW regulations (clause 12 of the Racing Administration
Regulation and clause 13 of the Totalizator Regulation) prohibit the publishing
of gambling advertising:
(a) that encourages a breach of the law, or
(b) that depicts children gambling, or
(c) that is false, misleading or deceptive, or
(d) that suggests that winning will be a definite outcome, or
(e) that suggests that participation in gambling activities
is likely to improve a person’s financial prospects, or
(f) that promotes the consumption of alcohol while engaging
in gambling activities, or
(g) that is not published in accordance with decency, dignity
and good taste and (in the case of a television commercial) in accordance with
the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice as in force at the time the
gambling advertising is published, or
(h) that offers any credit, voucher or reward as an
inducement to participate, or to participate frequently, in any gambling
activity (including as an inducement to open a betting account).
12.121 A range of
industries have codes of conduct in place covering gambling advertising. These
include the club industry, casinos, hotels, racing, lottery providers and the
television industry. These codes prescribe acceptable activities and codes of
behaviour around advertising of gambling products, but industry codes have no
12.122 The Productivity
Commission's (PC) 2010 report into gambling did not make specific recommendations
on wagering advertising regulations across states and territories but noted
that 'the appropriate rules for racing and sports betting advertising is an
emerging area of contention'.
12.123 Regarding gambling
advertising that may influence children, the PC did not advocate 'far reaching
changes to the current restrictions' (e.g. on times for broadcasting). Noting
that 'more sweeping prohibitions' on 'subtle forms of marketing' such as the
visibility of logos on sporting figures could be possible, the PC noted it was
important to balance social concerns with any effects on legitimate business
...the main thrust of policy should be to address inappropriate
content, being mindful of the difficulty of more generally limiting exposure to
children of gambling without inadvertently eliminating the capacity for
legitimate television marketing of gambling...
The decision about the scope of the restrictions must
therefore give significant weight to the applicability of social norms – an
issue best left for political judgement.
Inconsistency across jurisdictions
12.124 A number of
submitters noted that states and territories applied inconsistent approaches to
wagering advertising. Tabcorp noted the existence of different state and
territory regulatory regimes and their effects on customer demand:
Between jurisdictions, differences also apply to restrictions
on bet types, wagering advertising and the capacity of operators to offer
account opening inducements to wagering customers.
Customers who wish to take advantage of credit betting,
account opening inducements and a broad product offering are taking their
business to jurisdictions with regulatory environments that allow wagering
operators to provide these services.
12.125 Unlike in some other
states, sports betting and wagering operators licensed in the Northern
Territory are not bound by legislative requirements on advertising but instead
adhere to a voluntary code of conduct. Sportsbet outlined these arrangements
applying to its operations the Northern Territory:
Sportsbet is bound by guidelines contained in the Northern
Territory Code of Practice for Responsible Gambling. The Code has been
developed in consultation with a Responsible Gambling Advisory Committee
comprising various representatives from the gambling industry, government
agencies and community services such as the Salvation Army and Anglicare Top
Whilst the Code is a voluntary Code, it contains serious
expectations on licensed operators to ensure all measures are applied. The Code
and Manual make plain that serious or persistent breaches of their terms could
see action being taken against a licensee on the basis that the licensee is no
longer “fit and proper” to hold a gambling licence.
The Code outlines the minimum requirements of the gambling
The Code broadly requires that gambling advertising and
promotions be delivered in an honest and responsible manner with consideration
given to the potential impact on people adversely affected by gambling.
described in further detail what the code required in relation to gambling
- compliance with the Advertising Code of Ethics as adopted by
the Australian Association of National Advertisers or the Advertising
Federation of Australia
- that any television advertising comply with the Federation
of Commercial Television Stations (FACTS) Code of Practice
- accuracy and no false or deceptive advertising about the chances
of winning a prize or the size of the potential return for the wager
- that no impression be given “that gambling is a reasonable
strategy for financial betterment”
- that advertising displays not be directed at minors or portray
minors participating in gambling
- that problem gambling signage (including for Internet/telephone
sports bookmakers and online licensees) contain appropriate problem gambling
warning signage in a clearly visible manner
- that there be no advertising of individuals’ winnings (outside
of the providers’ internet site).
Current work underway on national
12.127 As noted in the
previous section on inducements, the need for a consistent approach to wagering
advertising has been discussed at a national level for some time.
12.128 The committee
notes that the Australasian Racing Ministers' Conference recently agreed to adopt
...a unified approach to the regulation of gambling advertising
based on provisions proposed by NSW with a cooperative approach between
jurisdictions to assist in enforcing the provisions on a complementary basis.
Calls for a national approach to
regulation of advertising
12.129 During the
inquiry, a number of sports betting operators repeated calls for a national
approach to the regulation of online wagering, including advertising.
providers themselves called for the adoption of a national code of practice
regulating advertising. For example, Tabcorp argued:
...it is important that those offering online wagering
services comply with minimum, consistently applied responsible gambling
standards. For this to occur, a national approach, founded in agreement by the
states and territories, is necessary. Credit betting, inducements to bet and
advertising should be subject to consistently applied standards.
Tabcorp's industry-leading approach to the responsible
service of its gambling products and customer care could also be used as a
template for the development of national standards in the development of
responsible gambling codes of practice, employment of responsible gambling
managers and customer care programs such as the BetCare wagering self-exclusion
12.131 Tabcorp suggested
the adoption of a national code of conduct for wagering operators that covers:
- Requirements for arrangements to be in place with sports
- Credit betting
- Offering of financial inducements to open an account
Responsible gambling messaging, self-exclusion and compliance
with the national sports betting code of practice.
A regulatory approach to these matters should be taken if
operators do not comply with the code of conduct.
12.132 Betfair was also
of the view that a national advertising code of practice should be put in place
across the wagering industry. However, in relation to advertising by gambling
companies during sports broadcasts and the potential effects on children,
Betfair did not advocate further regulation, stating:
Betfair does not believe there's a need to prohibit
advertising where it can be seen by minors. The legal age for gambling is 18
and there are significant barriers preventing minors from access to gambling,
12.133 The committee
welcomes the government's recent announcement to reduce and control the promotion
and broadcasting of live odds. This is a step in the right direction and picks
up on the understandable degree of community concern about the infiltration of
gambling into sport and sports coverage. However, the committee believes this
does not go far enough and notes that the undertaking to reduce the promotion
of live odds by mid-2012 does not appear to be a commitment to a total ban, is
based on self-regulation by industry and is not underpinned by legislation. The
committee therefore believes there should be a total ban which should be
enforced by legislation.
12.134 The committee is
also of the view that more needs to be done in the area of wagering advertising
beyond live odds announcements. The committee notes the range of sponsorship
relationships that betting agencies now have in place with major sporting clubs
across many popular codes and remains concerned about the effects of aggressive
promotional activity arising from such deals. The committee is particularly
concerned about the effect on children and young people who are more vulnerable
to being influenced by messages associating gambling with sport. The committee
also notes the negative effects of gambling advertising in sport already being
experienced by adult problem gamblers at the University of Sydney's Gambling
12.135 The committee
recognises that rules on sports betting and wagering advertising vary across
states and territories. Different rules on the offering of inducements, for
example, may be a contributing factor in leading online corporate bookmakers to
establish themselves in jurisdictions with more liberal licensing and
regulatory regimes, such as the Northern Territory.
12.136 The committee
welcomes the calls from wagering providers for a national code of conduct to
regulate a number of business practices relating to advertising, including inducements
and harm minimisation messages on responsible gambling.
12.137 While the
committee notes that a national approach to wagering advertising is being
pursued by Australasian Racing Ministers, the committee recommends that the
COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform work closely with Racing Ministers and the
industry to develop a mandatory national code of conduct. This work should aim
to adopt best practice regulation in relation to sports betting and wagering
advertising. The development of consistent standards should be pursued with
effective harm minimisation strategies in mind, given the influence that
advertising of gambling products can have on vulnerable groups, such as
children and people experiencing problem gambling. As noted in chapter 11, this
code of conduct should also incorporate national standards developed around
credit betting and the payment of third party commissions.
12.138 In the event
that consensus on a national code of conduct cannot be achieved in a reasonable
timeframe over 2012, the committee believes that the Commonwealth should
consider legislating in this area in order to achieve consistent regulatory
12.139 The committee
recommends that the COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform, in consultation
with Australasian Racing Ministers and the wagering industry, develop a mandatory
national code of conduct for advertising by wagering providers covering:
- inducements to bet;
- credit betting and third party commissions;
- harm minimisation messages on responsible gambling; and
- other nationally consistent standards to restrict certain forms
of sports betting advertising, which at a minimum, should include a ban on the
display of gambling companies' logos on sporting players' uniforms and
merchandise (such as children's replica sports shirts), as well as restrictions
on the giveaways of free merchandise which depict betting companies' logos.
restrictions are a significant part of advertising regulation. The committee majority's
view on broadcasting restrictions on gambling advertising as proposed in the
Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other
Measures) Bill 2011 is covered in chapter 16.
Emerging opportunities to gamble
12.141 The committee
notes that a recent Federal Court ruling in favour of Sportsbet has also
challenged Tabcorp's retail exclusivity in the state of Victoria. According to
media reports, the decision could pave the way for Sportsbet to open up
'internet betting kiosks' or 'betboxes' from pubs, supermarkets and petrol
stations. The Court found that the Victorian legislation banning the
establishment of such kiosks was 'unconstitutional.' Tabcorp has indicated that
it will appeal the decision.
12.142 While the
committee did not receive any evidence on the internet kiosk issue, it remains
very concerned at the potential for proliferation of betting activities in a
range of venues such as supermarkets and petrol stations which have previously
not offered gambling services and are entirely inappropriate venues in which to
do so. While the effect that such developments may have on the wagering
industry are not yet clear, the committee is concerned at increasing
opportunities for gambling (and potentially problem gambling) through outlets
such as 'betboxes' in local communities. Therefore, the committee recommends
that, following the outcome of the court case, the COAG Select Council on
Gambling Reform investigate this issue and consider appropriate nationally
consistent regulations in light of this trend.
12.143 The committee
recommends that, following the outcome of the Federal Court 'betbox' case, the
COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform, in conjunction with regulators,
investigate the potential for the growth of betting opportunities in a range of
venues which have not previously offered gambling services and develop
appropriate nationally consistent regulations to address it.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page