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Kayo warned over gambling ad breaches during AFL broadcast

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Sports streaming service Kayo was issued a formal warning by the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) on Wednesday following its breach of gambling advertising regulations in May 2022.

A release by the ACMA revealed that Kayo broke the rules during its showing of the Fremantle v Collingwood AFL match in May last year. Kayo aired ads for wagering firms in the five-minute timeslot before the start of the event and during scheduled breaks.

This ran afoul of the rules that prohibit gambling advertisements from being shown between the hours of 5am and 8:30pm during live sporting events. The ban also includes five minutes prior to the start of the event and five minutes after.

“Gambling advertising during live sport is a major concern for Australians. Families want to watch live sport without needing to worry that children may come to think of gambling as a part of the game,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

Kayo’s technology partner, Streamotion, claimed during the ACMA investigation that an “edge case bug” was the cause of the breach, rather than any malicious intent from the streaming service.

“Unfortunately, the edge case bug meant that certain viewers who joined the stream of the AFL Game at a particular point in time were not identified as viewing the AFL Game on a live basis due to a delay in the system identifying the AFL Game as a live sporting event for these users,” Streamotion explained.

“Although the system subsequently corrected itself, these affected viewers were served gambling promotional content (due to the edge case bug in the system which failed to identify the AFL Game as a live sporting event).”

The streaming firm further stated that while the slight was unfortunate, only 5,000 to 7,000 accounts on Kayo received the gambling ads at the time.

Following the breach, Kayo reportedly “implemented live production testing and technical enhancements to the processes and software used to schedule advertising”.

The company will also enlist the aid of senior management in reviewing and signing off on system changes that could cause Kayo to violate the regulator’s rules.

Following the recent parliamentary inquiry into online wagering in Australia, the issue of gambling advertising has been a major topic of conversation. Research by the Australian Gambling Research Centre discovered that around 53% of Australians were in support of a blanket ban on gambling advertisements on outlets like radio, TV, on-demand platforms, and live streams before 10:30pm.

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