In response to imminent regulations from the Australian government on gambling advertisements, the nation’s sports betting industry is poised to remove their logos from football club match-day jerseys. These measures come as Communications Minister Michelle Rowland prepares to introduce stricter controls on TV, online, and outdoor betting ads.
Insiders reveal that as part of negotiations with the government, involving TV, sports, and gambling sector executives, the betting industry has agreed to withdraw jersey advertising in football. Additionally, the industry has suggested ceasing radio advertisements during school pick-up times and enforcing Victorian-style prohibitions of promotions near schools and on billboards.
This change reflects a broader shift in the relationship between sports and gambling ads. According to Swinburne University of Technology, about half of the NRL clubs still partner with bookmakers, and there were 21 such partnerships across 14 top sports in Australia in 2022. Meanwhile, AFL clubs and English Premier League clubs are moving away from betting firm sponsorships on jerseys, with the latter aiming to do so by 2025.
The Australian government, assessing the financial and social implications of a complete ban on TV and digital gambling ads, has garnered support from various MPs and anti-gambling advocates. While Opposition Leader Peter Dutton compared future gambling ad restrictions to those on tobacco, government officials seem to be considering a softer stance. Discussions have included limiting the number and frequency of gambling ads on TV, possibly capping them at one to three ads per hour per channel.
Amid heightened public frustration over gambling ads linked to sports broadcasts, Rowland is tasked with balancing these community concerns against the financial impacts on sports leagues like the NRL and AFL, and broadcasters that heavily rely on revenue from betting ads. The decision is complicated by reports of Sportsbet donations to Rowland’s re-election campaign, which have added pressure and calls for her resignation.
Lastly, the betting industry must transition from using the “gamble responsibly” tagline in ads by next March, replacing it with up to seven new, research-backed taglines. Current rules prohibit gambling ads during live sports events before 8.30 pm and between 4 pm and 7 pm in children’s programming, though news and current affairs programs are exempt.
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