AU Advertising Watchdog Okays New Set of Regulatory Codes for TV Gambling Commercials

As Australian gambling oppositionists continue to harp on sport betting adverts, particularly those that invade TV shows viewed by children, the Australia Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has stepped in by implementing the new Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

Developed by Free TV Australia, the body representing Australia’s licensee broadcasters of free-to-air commercials, the new set of codes will take effect starting December 01, 2015.

The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice contains specific restrictions on the promotions of odds, or any commercials related to betting or gambling activities, during ongoing live sporting events. TV adverts that promote betting odds, and/or betting activities are not permitted during an ongoing match, not even during scheduled or non-scheduled breaks. The Code identifies gambling or betting advertisements as those containing distinct promotional allusion to a gambling organisation, providing general information about the betting company’s business, brand, or services, whether presented as written or audible messages, as moving or still images, symbols, signs or any other form of illustrations, or their combinations.

A sport commentator is likewise not allowed to promote betting odds during live sporting events within 30 minutes before and 30 minute after the commencement of a live match. The Code defines a commentator as a person participating in a live sporting event in his or her capacity as host or guest, which may include those providing analysis of the ongoing sport match.

The ban on TV gambling commercials though does not apply to long-form sporting events such as those featuring golf, cricket (except 20/20 cricket), motor sport competitions, single sport tournaments that involve simultaneous matches like tennis championships, and multi-sport competitions such as the Commonwealth and Olympic games. The restrictions on live broadcasts for odds promotions, and betting do not apply to horse, harness, or greyhound racing events.

In such cases, the betting or gambling commercial or odds promotion must be socially responsible and must not mislead or deceive the viewers.

More importantly, the TV gambling commercial must not target children nor portray children as participants to gambling activities; or depict gambling as a form of family activity. Moreover, the TV betting adverts should not make overstated claims, or promote gambling as a means to attain success or an achievement. In no way should a gambling ad contain text or messages that link betting activities to alcohol. The Code also includes a condition that no gambling commercial is permitted unless it includes or ends with a message about responsible gambling.

Lastly, the rules include prohibitions regarding the positions or locations of a gambling firm’s representative tasked to promote odds, or appearing in the TV gambling commercial . The representative or the commercial model of the gambling advert must not be within the venue, or even appear to be situated in the venue where the sport competition is taking place.

Chris Chapman, the Chairman at ACMA remarked that the code now mirrors the present-day media environment. He added that the rules are conveyed in a straightforward but friendly form, whilst containing a package of appropriate safeguards for the community in accordance with contemporary situations. The protections include so-called “special care” measures and tools that enable viewers, specifically parents, in managing their viewing experience and that of their children’s.