Australian media regulator blasts two broadcast networks for gambling ad breaches

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that broadcasters Seven Network and Nine Network both contravened rules around gambling advertising by showing betting promotions during sporting events.

An investigation undertaken by the Authority found that between July and August 2021, Seven Network aired 49 betting promos during its coverage of the Tokyo Olympics on its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide broadcasts, while also showing gambling ads on its live stream of the Olympics.

A separate investigation found that Nine Network had broadcast a gambling ad at 8:21pm during the half-time break of the National Rugby League grand final in October 2021.

According to Australian advertising regulations, broadcasters are prohibited from showing gamblings ads during their coverage of live sports events between 5am and 8:30pm.

After that watershed, gambling ads can be broadcast but are restricted to defined breaks, while for long-form events including the Olympics, broadcasters must not show the ads from five minutes before the start of the first event of the day until after 8:30pm, and not more than once every two hours after that. 

Those rules also apply to live streams of sporting events, ACMA said.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin: “Many families enjoy watching sport as a shared activity and parents worry that children exposed to these ads may normalise betting as a part of sport. It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”

“These rules exist to address community concerns about excessive exposure to betting promotions. Both Seven and Nine are well aware that they have to keep these ads to certain times,” said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“Many families enjoy watching sport as a shared activity and parents worry that children exposed to these ads may normalise betting as a part of sport. It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”

Both broadcasters have now entered into court-enforceable undertakings with the ACMA, and will be required to implement systems to avoid breaking rules again, in addition to providing further training for staff responsible for the scheduling and broadcast of gambling ads during sport programming.

Seven Network has been issued with an additional formal warning for its live stream breaches.

Both networks must now report back to the ACMA on the training and the effectiveness of newly implemented systems and practices, providing details of how they have resolved any problems arising during their implementation.

The ACMA added that it intends to make a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into online gambling by Australia’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, given its regulatory responsibilities and experience in the sector.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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