Are there too many gambling ads on TV? Even gambling giants like Tabcorp think so and are supporting a government proposal to slash the amount of airtime allotted to gambling spots.

Stephen Conroy says betting companies support TV gambling ad Restrictions

Stephen Conroy, former Labor senator, now chief executive of betting industry body RWA said this week that betting companies completely agree that there is too much gambling advertising on TV. (Image: The Australian) 

It’s the TV channels, which are set to miss out on millions of dollars crucial revenues, that aren’t quite so enthused.

A new industry lobby group, Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), which is backed by homegrown and foreign commercial bookmakers like bet365, Betfair, CrownBet, Sportsbet and Unibet, said this week it also agreed that gambling advertising, particularly surrounding televised sporting events, was getting out of hand.

“We have long shared the community’s view that there is too much gambling advertising,” said the body’s spokesman and chief executive, former Labor senator Stephen Conroy, in an official statement this week.

“RWA welcomes government consultation with the wagering industry, community groups, sporting organisations and broadcasters to achieve meaningful reductions in wagering advertising,” he added.

More Harm Than Good

To the betting companies, in a increasingly competitive market, the current liberal landscape of television advertising may, in fact, do more harm than good.

It’s like a Pandora’s box that forces companies to spend millions in the attempt to out-market one another, while offering a broadly similar product. It’s no wonder that in such a climate these companies are seeking consolidation through mergers and acquisitions.

Tabcorp, which is currently looking to merge with the Tatts Group, has said that total marketing spend in the betting industry had increased almost three-fold from approximately $119 million in the 2011 financial year to approximately $328 million in 2015.   

“We have long shared the community’s view that there is too much gambling advertising,” said a spokesperson for Tabcorp this week.

Digital Giants Could be the Real Winners

Betting ads are prohibited during children’s viewing hours but there is currently no limit to the volume of ads that can be shown during live sporting events. But the proposed ban on gambling commercials during these events would cost broadcasters at least $120 million a year, which is the amount they raked in in 2016.

Ten Network chief executive Paul Anderson said that if the government singled out the television network for tighter regulations, companies like Google and Facebook would be the big winners.

“Sports betting advertising is plastered on buses and around sporting grounds, and it is all over the internet including on Facebook and Instagram,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “But once again, all we are talking about is placing more restrictions on free-to-air television which already has tighter controls around gambling advertising than any other media platform.

“We understand the public concern around problem gambling but all this proposal will do is drive gambling advertising to other platforms.”

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