the Australian Wagering Council (AWC) has attacked the Greens political party's
proposal to ban sports betting advertising as an empty gesture, instead calling
for discussions between governments, the industry and consumers on the matter.
The AWC, which
represents major operators such as bet365, Betfair, Sportsbet, William Hill and
Unibet, called the proposed ban a “piecemeal, political gesture”, and said that
“a mature and rational discussion” should take place between various industry stakeholders
over the issues of wagering advertising and sponsorship.
Last week the Greens aired proposals
to end the "constant barrage" of sports betting ads to which it
believes consumers are subjected by treating them in the same way as tobacco
advertising, which was banned in 1992.
The AWC's chief
executive Ian Fletcher stressed however that all wagering regulation, including
regulation of advertising and sponsorship, had to be evidence-based and
properly and rationally discussed.
“The proposal by the
Greens to ban sports betting advertising is a piecemeal political gesture that
does not deal with the realities of a global wagering marketplace and ignores
the role advertising plays in delivering the benefits of competition to
Australian customers,” Fletcher explained.
Fletcher said that
comparisons between sports betting advertising and the promotion of products
that cause cancer undermines the potential for collaboration between industry
and the Greens to address concerns, as it “unhelpfully caricatures a genuinely
complex issue of community concern.”
“A total ban on
wagering advertising and sponsorship will also have detrimental commercial
impacts on the racing, sporting and media industries in Australia, which the
Greens fail to acknowledge,” Fletcher added.
He, and the
association, believes that advertising is an important legal right for its
consumers of the identity of licensed Australian-based wagering service
providers through which they can participate in wagering in a highly controlled
and consumer protected environment while avoiding the significant dangers which
exist from wagering with illegal offshore operators.”
The AWC is aware of
the fact that any right to advertise comes with responsibilities, supporting
the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ call for a Wagering and
Advertising Marketing Communications Code to set new regulations for the
Its operator members
all work to ensure strict compliance with all state and territory laws, as well
as making sure all ads comply with the broadcasting and advertising industry
Codes of Practive.
Fletcher accused the
Greens of attempting to shift scrutiny away from poker machines to sports
betting, making the vertical “the new political football,” in what he believes
to be a “misguided” move.
“Sports betting has
increased in popularity in Australia over the last 5 years, in line with global
trends,” he said. “Australia’s official gambling statistics reveal that sports
betting accounts for only 3 per cent of Australian’s total gambling
“But, if you listen to
its critics, you’d be forgiven for thinking sports betting has overtaken the
pokies, which actually still account for more than half of Australians’
gambling spend and more than 80 per cent of Australia’s problem gamblers,”
Fletcher continued. “And, of course, there is no advertising of poker
He also pointed to the
recent Study of Gambling and Health in Victoria, which measures gambling
participation and the prevalence of problem gambling in the state. He claims
that the survey debunks widespread myths that sports betting has exploded in
the country and created an increase in problem gambling.
The study shows that
sports and event betting has grown from just 1.15 per cent in 2008 to 5.11 per
cent in 2014, also observing no increase in participation in online sports
betting by problem gamblers.
“AWC members invest
heavily in responsible gambling and harm minimization initiatives, so it is
encouraging to note from the study’s findings that the prevalence of problem or
at-risk gambling in Victoria did not change from 2008 to 2014, with 0.81 per
cent of people experiencing problems from their own gambling,” Fletcher added.
“There’s so much
misinformation circulating about the sports betting industry that the potential
for sensible discussion and regulation to be derailed by untruths is worrying.”