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TV & radio broadcasters defend bookie revenue as regulation looms

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THE Federal Opposition has proposed new legislation that would tear at the huge gambling revenue pie our television and radio broadcasters currently dine out.

On the back of the 2015 Review into Interactive Gambling and Illegal Offshore Wagering, the Labor Party has called on the government to ban the advertising of betting odds and gambling commercials during live sporting broadcasts.

While the Federal Government has introduced legislation stemming from the review, blocking online bookmakers from offering in play betting, Labor says it doesn’t go far enough and wants more stringent restrictions put on broadcasters.

Introducing the amendment into Federal Parliament today, acting opposition Communications spokesman Mark Dreyfus and Labor spokesperson for gambling Julie Collins said the advertising of gambling odds and companies during live sporting events no longer met the expectations of the community.

“The House calls on the Government to work with the broadcasting industry and national sporting organisations on a transition plan to phase out the promotion of betting odds and commercials relating to betting or gambling before and during live sporting broadcasts, with a view to their prohibition,” the amendment reads.

It’s not a good idea, if you ask the broadcasters, who obviously need to protect their revenue streams in an area that has shown rapid growth when many have dwindled.

“Commercial broadcasters already have the most comprehensive, targeted set of restrictions on the promotion of betting services of any media platform in Australia,” Free TV chief executive Brett Savill told The Australian.

The lobby group speaks for Ten Network, Seven Network, Nine Network, Prime Television and Southern Cross Austereo.

Savill called the amendments unnecessary and unwarranted and said the representative body rejected them
“Introducing new restrictions which single-out free to air television — which continues to be the most heavily regulated media platform in Australia — is entirely unnecessary,” the lobby group told the paper.

“In fact, doing so would risk regulatory bypass and put commercial free to air broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage compared to other media platforms, while failing to achieve the policy intent.”

And the radio mob has also panned the plans.

Commercial Radio Australia, which lobbies on behalf of a plethora of radio stations across the country, has also lashed the amendments.

“There has been no consultation with the industry,” the body’s boss Joan Warner said.

“Advertising around sports broadcasting is already heavily regulated through the Live Odds Code, which was introduced in 2013.

“The industry worked closely with ACMA to develop the codes to ensure they met community expectations. Given there have been no complaints on this topic, any further restrictions cannot be justified.”

Mr Dreyfus, while introducing the new bill in the Parliament today, urged the government to listen.

“The government, the broadcast industry and the sporting codes (needs) to accept that gambling advertising before and during live sporting broadcasts is contrary to community standards and to amend the broadcasting codes of practice accordingly,” she said.

“Current restrictions should be extended to ensure there is no promotion of betting odds or gambling advertising at all in the 30 minutes before play and to ensure there is no gambling advertising at all during scheduled breaks, such as halftime, or during unscheduled breaks, such as weather delays.”

Our say

Given that gambling is our core business, you might think we would be totally with the broadcasters on this.

Not so.

From our perspective, we have always been big advocates for responsible gambling practices. We want our readers to have fun on the punt. We don’t want them spending their food money on the punt or wagering their mortgage money.

It’s not healthy and not happy.

We believe advertising gambling companies during sporting events – and on television or radio in general – can be informative. But it can also be destructive. Punters who want to have a bet know where they can do it and they know how to do it. They can find the odds at the tip of their fingers on their smart phones or tablets. They don’t need it shoved down their throats during broadcasts.

If the opposition thinks it can minimise the harm done to punters by tightening restrictions on gambling advertising for broadcasters, then the government should at least listen and explore some regulation.

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