Aussies Count The Cost Of Gambling Advertising Ban (Update)

Could online advertising be a beneficiary?

The conversation on federal government Communications Minister Mitch Fifield’s intention to seek Cabinet approval for a ban on gambling adverts during live sports events (see previous InfoPowa reports) continued Thursday with the Australian Financial Review exploring the possible costs in lost advertising…and some parties suggesting that online media could benefit from reallocated advertising funds.

The latter argument is based on the premise that Fifield’s proposal does not include online gambling advertising, which they claim has few restrictions and growing technological capabilities.

The AFR reported that industry experts it spoke to estimated most gambling advertising on TV takes place during live sports events, and is worth around A$80 million and A$100 million.

The publication also quoted the Standard Media Index, which accounted for about 80 percent of media agency advertising spend, wagering companies and lottery providers’ TV advertising and revealed that spend rose 19.2 percent to A$141 million last year.

Wagering advertising is a top 20 spending category in the estimated A$2.2 billion to A$2.5 billion TV advertising market, the AFR report noted, although the top four categories are finance, automotive, retail and telecommunications.

Free-to-air broadcasters, who say they pay some of the world’s highest licence fees, were also not placated by suggestions that government might ease the pain of a ban by reductions in licensing costs.

Other television broadcasters noted that an advertising ban would have significant impact on sports right for broadcasters which could result in them migrating to unregulated platforms operated by offshore entities.

“Industry estimates the wagering industry spends about A$300 million on media, and about 40 percent to 50 percent of that is on television, both free-to-air and subscription,” the AFR reported.

Anti-gambling Senator Nick Xenophon predictably had little sympathy for gambling firms and sports clubs impacted by a possible television ban on live sports events, claiming that clubs have become greedy for gambling revenue.

He criticised the AFL and NRL for fighting the proposal to ban advertising during live sports events and their claims that it would impact grassroots sports development

“How about they consider the impact of their greed to ‘get into bed’ with online betting agencies and actually consider the impact it’s had on their fans – an increasing number of whom have fallen by the wayside because of gambling addiction,” he said.

“The sporting codes really need to acknowledge they’ve become incredibly commercialised and corporatised in the last 20 years, they’ve become increasingly dependent on gambling revenue, and they’ve become quite greedy about it.”

Several weeks ago Xenophon proposed a bill seeking to ban gambling ads but it was rebuffed by the Senate Estimates committee.

Gambling researcher Dr Charles Livingstone said the revenue from direct sponsorship from agencies – A$60 million for the NRL over five years and an estimated A$10 million for the AFL — could easily be found elsewhere. He rejected the argument that sports bodies needed to collaborate with gambling firms on information to eradicate corruption in sport.