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Humanitarian organisation weighs in on gambling ad restrictions

Gambling ads ban
A THIRD party has weighed in on the gambling advertising debate, which has created a clear path for a blanket ban.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has entered a submission regarding the Turnbull media reform package announced last year.

While major Australian sporting codes are seeking to ease the ban on ads from five minutes before and after a live game between the hours of 5am and 8:30pm, UNICEF is calling for an extension on the hours.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the submission pointed out that the impact on children is at the centre of the policy, given research has revealed 63 percent of children aged between 12 and 17 in Australia and overseas gamble each year.

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The humanitarian organisation pointed out that children should be prioritised in the policy when it comes to the restrictions.

UNICEF has recommended extending the hours to 9pm to more accurately cover hours for minors, calling for penalties to reprimand those who breach the rules.

Online betting sites have been openly supportive of the ban, citing the importance of community concerns.

Bookies may be forced to cut marketing costs regardless of the ban, with new regulations coming into play over the course of 2018, such as the state-based point of consumption taxes and a sign-up bonuses ban.

Those looking to find loopholes in the gambling advertising ban, handed down by the Turnbull government last year, include Australian broadcasters and sporting clubs.

Both industries rely on gambling advertising as a source of revenue, and while the media reform package reduces the costs of licensing in exchange for a reduction in ads, Free TV, Commercial Radio Australia, and ASTRA, have proposed exemptions in their draft codes.

The wagering industry reportedly spent almost $150 million on gambling and lottery advertisements in 2016, a 19 percent increase from the previous year.

Since networks spend millions of dollars securing lucrative broadcasting deals, such as the NRL $925 million deal set to kick off in 2018 where the number of games aired will increase from two to four, they’re worried a reduction will affect future partnerships.

But allowing gambling ads during long sporting events, such as the Australian Open, doesn’t meet the government’s intention to “establish a clear and practical safe zone”.

Horse racing and lottery advertising remain exempt from the ban.

The government has also spoken out against the attempts to ease the restrictions, stating it would go down the legislative path if required.

Former Senator Nick Xenophon attempted to go down the legislation avenue during the debate over the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2016, introducing a secondary amendment to completely ban gambling ads.

His attempts failed after the creator of the IGA 2016 and Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, said it would ban horse racing ads including odds promos for the Melbourne Cup.

It is expected that a final copy of each broadcaster’s code will be completed in March when the ban will come into play.