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Australia implements live odds betting ban during sports broadcasts

1st August 2013 7:34 am GMT

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the government agency responsible for the regulation of broadcasting across internet, radio and TV, has registered new codes of practice which limit betting odds promotions and gambling advertising during live sporting broadcasts.

The ACMA said that Australian sports fans can now enjoy broadcasts of live sporting events, without the constant intrusion of promotions of live odds during play.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: “The ACMA worked with broadcasters to enhance and harmonise the codes so they provide appropriate community safeguards for the matters covered by them.”

The codes have been developed by the commercial and subscription radio and television sectors of the broadcasting industry in response to community concern and government policy.

This followed an announcement in May 2011 by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), in which Ministers had agreed to take action to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during live sports coverage.

Governments were concerned that the promotion, including commentary by sporting role models, was becoming “insidious in live sports coverage” and could significantly influence vulnerable and young people and normalise gambling behaviour.

The new codes prohibit the promotion of betting odds from the start until the end of play and prohibit commentators from promoting betting odds during play, and for 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the game.

They also restrict generic gambling advertisements to before and after play, during scheduled breaks in play and when play is suspended, and require gambling representatives to be clearly identified at all times.

In addition, the codes prohibit gambling advertising that involves a gambling representative at or around the ground at any time, and prohibit gambling representatives appearing as part of the commentary team at any time.

At the end of the coming Australian summer sports season, the ACMA will consider if there is a need to review the effectiveness of the new codes, and will continue to examine community attitudes in order to inform its decision-making on any future regulatory initiatives.

According to recent research conducted by the ACMA, 66 per cent of Australian found the promotion of odds during live sporting events unacceptable.

The new codes are already in effect in South Australia after it took action earlier this year in order to become the first state to implement the measures.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the new codes would help prevent the “scourge” of live odds advertising from invading the lounge rooms of families around the state.

“I have no problem with people wanting to have a flutter, but I do have a problem with live odds being advertised on television or displayed at the ground as part of normal sport coverage,” said Weatherill. “Sport should be able to be enjoyed by families without the influence of gambling.”

Weatherill said betting agencies that breach the regulations face on the spot fines of AUD$10,000, fines of $100,000 and withdrawal of the authorisation to operate in South Australia.

“The Independent Gambling Authority will be reviewing sporting coverage over coming weekends to ensure that there are no breaches of the new regulations,” Weatherill continued. “We have received cooperation from the media and gambling industries on these changes and I expect their cooperation will continue now these new regulations have come into effect.

“Ultimately, these measures will ensure that the watching of sport and the promotion of gambling is kept separate.”

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