Australia Bans Gambling Ads during Live-Streamed Sports Events
Australia extended its ban on gambling ads to streaming services. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) this week announced a ban on gambling advertisements during live-streamed sporting events on the Internet.
Depending on the sporting event, a certain number of ads are allowed. Some sports, like golf and cricket, get a single gaming commercial throughout the entire game. Others (rugby) receive as many as four ads, though they have to be between matches.
The new law will go into effect on September 28. The ban is not complete, as it pertains to live sporting events streamed online between 5am and 8:30pm. That effectively covers all but the overnight period, but is designed to keep Australian children from seeing gambling ads while they watch sports online.
ACMA: Sports and eSports Ad Ban
ACMA’s ban includes traditional sports and eSports broadcasts. It completes the circle started in 2013 to end gambling ad placement during sports broadcasts. Tom Waterhouse‘s appearance on NRL games discussing betting lines proved to be the undoing of gambling ads during sports broadcasts, as it led to a general backlash against bookmaker ads.
Since then, more regulations have been imposed against gambling commercials and gaming ads in general. As sports leagues have begun to live-stream events online to premium customers and mass market fans alike, the need for a ban on live streaming sporting events became apparent.
Nerida O’Laughlin on Streaming Ban
Nerida O’Laughlin, the chairperson of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, said of the ban, “This brings online services in line with television and radio broadcasting services. It creates a safe zone for children and families to watch live sport across a variety of platforms.”
The policy is not one-size-fits-all. A certain number of ads are allowed per broadcast. Golf and cricket can show one single gaming ads during a broadcast. Olympic and Commonwealth games can exhibit gaming promotions once every three hours during their live streams.
Rugby League and Rugby Union can show up to four promotions, but all such commercials must be streamed in-between matches. Other exceptions exist. For instance, if a broadcast originates from outside Australia and the ads were not placed in by Aussie technicians, then the ads can run.
No Restrictions to Foreign Streams
The reason this exemption exists is ACMA ruled it was “not reasonably practicable” for Australian providers to eliminate the ads. ACMA also ruled that the provider did not receive “direct or indirect benefit” from the ads being in the sporting content.
ACMA stated that the rule goes into effect on September 28 and would be reviewed after a year in practice. Next year at this time, the Australian gaming regulator will determine whether the policy is fair, effective, and worth maintaining.
Commercial Radio Australia Complained
The new policy appears to be the result of broadcast networks’ complaints. For instance, Commercial Radio Australia complained that ACMA’s policies unfairly hurt television and radio broadcasters, because online streaming services had no such restrictions.
More tightening of gambling regulations can be expected from the state and territorial governments. In August 2018, Australian Capital Territory Attorney General Gordon Ramsay said that the ACT is looking at further restrictions on gambling promotions. Ramsay did not give a specific comment on the types of regulations the Australian Capital Territory might impose.
Point of Consumption Tax
Three other Australian states – Southern Australia, West Australia, and New South Wales – have imposed or are considered a 15% Point-of-Consumption Tax on online gambling revenues. Australian domestic gaming companies pushed the Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016 in August of 2017, which pushed most publicly-listed foreign gaming companies out of Australia’s poker and casino market. The politicians felt they had done domestic operators a huge favor and wanted them to pay back to the system with its 15% POC tax.
Unfortunately for the companies, many Australian online gamblers did not want to play at the licensed domestic Aussie operators’ sites, which they felt offered an inferior product. Instead, those punters gravitated to unlicensed online casinos and poker sites, which have better casino games and bigger poker playing communities — thus bigger prizes. Now the domestic companies are complaining they should not have to pay the 15% tax, because they will not be able to compete with un-taxed offshore companies.
At least in those three Australian states, the lawmakers do not want to hear a fresh set of complaints. As one can see with the POC tax and Commercial Radio Australia complaining against live streaming sites’ ads, the Australian gaming industry is a cutthroat business. As the government wants more revenues from the domestic gaming industry they have cultivated, one might expect to see harsher laws imposed.