Australian sports officials reject proposals to better regulate online gambling

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While a handful of Australia’s largest clubs and popular athletes have expressed concerns over existing online gambling regulations, Australia’s most influential sports officials have dismissed suggestions that there is a growing need for better regulation of online gambling.

Existing regulations are sufficient:

The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (Compps), better known as a group of Australia’s most influential sports officials such as the AFL, NRL, Tennis Australia, Rugby Australia, Football Australia and Netball Australia, has informed a federal parliamentary inquiry that existing advertising and broadcast restrictions and regulations are sufficient in combination with the action of individual sports authorities.

In a submission to the inquiry, Jo Setright, executive director of policy at Compps’, said: “The existing arrangements strike the right balance between the public interest in watching sport without excessive references to gambling and live odds or undue exposure of viewers including children to gambling promotion and the right of betting operators to advertise their products in a socially responsible manner.

“Any measures that impact the advertising revenue model for broadcasters may affect the value of sports’ media rights, which [our] members use to fund their grassroots and game development and other programs.”

However, the chair of the parliamentary inquiry, Labor MP Peta Murphy, said: “Compps’ statement was not in line with community sentiment.

“That does not get well with the clear community sentiment and it does not gel well with some of the evidence we are receiving from experts about increasing gambling and increasing gambling harm. Obviously the committee wants to interrogate that position with them and give them the opportunity to talk to it.”

The reason why existing gambling regulations are not enough:

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Over the past few months, a small number of clubs and athletes have been disappointed and expressed concern about the dominance of betting advertisements.

Their main concern is that gambling is increasingly seen as an integral part of sports. In support of this, NRL Clubs South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury Bulldogs have announced that they will forbid betting advertising on ground signs and big screens and will divest from sponsorship of all club jerseys.

Blake Solly, the Rabbitohs chief executive, declined to comment on the Compps statement, referring questions to the NRL, but said: “The club continues to support the Reclaim the Game campaign to reduce community exposure to sports betting advertising.”

In addition, Melbourne ruckman and former Collingwood star Brodie Grundy also expressed concern about the exposure of young AFL fans to gambling ads, saying: “The situation is worrying.”

In this regard, Setright said: “The inquiry revenue generated by wagering partnerships allowed governing bodies to fund their integrity units and other “operational priorities.

“It is important that any review of online gambling regulation recognizes the need for such funding to continue in order to support the maintenance and where necessary strengthening of the sports’ integrity protection programs.”

Considerations for banning gambling ads:

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The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation reported that in 2021 the average number of gambling ads broadcast each day on free-to-air television in Victoria was 948.

Australia has the highest number of gambling losses of any country worldwide, amounting to approximately $1,276 per person per year, and problem gamblers more than doubled – from 0,6% in 2011 to 1,23% in 2019.

Last month, the federal government reported plans to require all gambling companies to replace the “gamble responsibly” slogan on their ads with 1 of 6 new warnings such as: “Chances are you’re about to lose.”

This plans were accepted by leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud, who said: “A complete ban on gambling advertisements should be considered.

“We need to have a conversation about whether or not gambling ads should be on at all – especially given that children are often watching sport, or families are together to support their favourite team when the betting ads come on.”

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