Andrews ups the ante on tougher rules for sports gambling ads

Andrews ups the ante on tougher rules for sports gambling ads

February 28, 2023

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he won’t stand in the way of a national push for tougher rules when it comes to sports betting ads.

The federal government is expected to announce gambling reforms later this term, informed by the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry to be delivered by mid-year.

Daniel Andrews said he would welcome greater safeguards around online gambling at a state or national level.Credit:Joe Armao

NSW, Queensland and Tasmania have told the inquiry into the societal damage caused by online betting that existing rules are insufficient. South Australia, meanwhile, says a total ban on sports betting ads should be considered.

Victoria, however, did not make a submission.

Andrews said that was a result of the government going into caretaker mode before the November election.

“I don’t think we have any fundamental disagreement [with the stance of NSW],” he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“The minister for gaming at the national ministerial council was working very closely with state colleagues and the national government.

“And so [it] shouldn’t be read that we don’t think this is a serious issue.”

The NSW government says 90 per cent of people believe that children are exposed to too many gambling promotions. Queensland says that post-7pm television is saturated with gambling ads. South Australia has cited data that suggests 85 per cent of children aged 11 to 16 watch sport after 8.30pm.

Andrews said he would welcome greater safeguards at a state or national level.

“That’s the work of the ministerial council,” he said, referring to the Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council, which advises the state government on the impacts of gambling.

“The parliamentary inquiry is important as well, and we’ll get to what comes with that. But the [relevant Victorian] minister has deeply engaged in these issues.”

Some restrictions on gambling promotion already exist. Gambling ads cannot be shown during live sports events until 8.30pm, though betting firms use half-time and other breaks to advertise. Ads are also prohibited between 4pm and 7pm during shows rated C, P or G, but news and current affairs programs are excluded.

Australians spent about $7 billion on online gambling in 2021, according to consultancy H2 Gambling Capital.

There were 948 gambling ads on daily free-to-air television in Victoria in 2021, equating to one every 91 seconds and representing a 253 per cent increase from five years earlier, according to research commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Major sporting codes such as the AFL and NRL have flagged their opposition to any changes to online sports betting, arguing the revenue generated from such ads helps fund grassroots sport.

Free TV Australia – representing television outlets including Nine Entertainment, which owns The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald – says it will be more difficult to keep sport on free-to-air TV if there are fewer gambling ads.

Anti-gambling groups and other civil society organisations want tighter rules or a total ban on gambling ads, while some clubs and players, including new Collingwood captain Darcy Moore, have taken aim at what they say is the pervasive influence of gambling in sport.

The details and scope of the federal government’s planned reforms remain unclear.

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