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New NSW advertising laws see bookies, racing & media industries unite

The racing industry could feel the pinch from the NSW’s government’s crack down on gambling advertising.

AUSTRALIA’s media organisations have united with online bookmakers and the racing industry to raise concerns with the NSW government’s new laws which will crack down on gambling advertising.

The new laws, which are expected to come into effect in the next few weeks, come as the Liquor and Gaming bill was amended by the NSW Parliament recently, with the changes successfully making it through both the Lower and Upper Houses swiftly and without much media attention.

Some of the major changes will restrict wagering companies being offered inducements to attracts bettors, regardless whether they are a corporate bookmaker or the global betting giant Tabcorp which is the joint wagering partner of the racing industries in both NSW and Victoria.

The changes to the legislation will outlaw promotions such as money back offers, for instance promotions where you receive bonus bets if you bet on a horse and it runs second or third.

Stephen Conroy, the Executive Director of Responsible Wagering Australia, the independent body representing corporations including Bet365, Crownbet, Ladbrokes and Sportsbet, said he is concerned regarding the lack of discourse between the government and the racing and wagering industries in relation to the new laws.

“There was no consultation on these major changes before the legislation was introduced and passed,” Conroy said.

“We’re hoping to avoid damage to the racing industry by raising our key concerns with the NSW government before changes are enacted.

“RWA and its members respect the NSW Government’s decision to further regulate wagering inducements, but believe it must have regard for the capabilities of digital platforms, national broadcasters…and national publications.”

Currently, there is a loophole in the bill which allows betting companies to advertise and promote their products, provided they include a disclaimer that the offer is not available in NSW.

But the new laws will make it an offence to publish or communicate any advertisement which includes an inducement to gamble – be it television, radio, print or digital – if the advertisement can be viewed by a NSW resident, even if it is published outside of the state.

However, wagering and media organisations are concerned that the implications of the revised legislation could have wide-reaching ramifications outside of NSW’s borders, as they will effectively not be permitted to advertise any offers in any format or state in case the promotion was able to be seen by a resident of NSW.

The racing industry, which receives funding from Tabcorp and corporate bookmakers, is concerned that the new laws could have a flow-on effect if the wagering companies were no longer able to promote their services and attract new customers.

It will also hit media organisations and racing broadcasters hard, with many TV stations, industry websites and newspaper publications reliant on wagering advertising and affiliate deals.

Bridget Fair, the CEO of Free TV Australia – an industry body which represents the nation’s commercial free-to-air television licensees – claims Free TV and its members were not consulted on the legislation.

“Once we became aware of the Bill, we contacted the Premier and Minister for Racing and we were consulted about the issues we had raised,” she said.

“Our primary concern with the legislation was that it in effect creates a national ban on advertising of inducements, due to the national nature of broadcasting sales and in come cases transmission.

“We were also concerned about the liability on broadcasters for content developed by betting advertisers and the limited time prior to commencement of the legislation.

“Our concerns around liability and commencement have been addressed by the Government and we are pleased with that outcome.”

While Racing Minister Paul Toole has confirmed media outlets will remain exempt from prosecution unless they had already been informed that an ad was illegal, directors of corporate bookmakers will be liable for any breaches of the rules.

Penalties for these breaches have increased from $5,500 to $55,000 per offence.

The NSW crackdown comes just after the Federal Government announced it will ban gambling advertisements completely during all live sports broadcasts between 5am and 8.30pm.

The prohibition will come into effect from March 30 and is aimed at reducing children’s exposure to betting advertisements.