Gambling ads on TV have festered into mammoth proportions in recent years. During last year’s Australian Football League telecasts, 0ne in six advertisements promoted gambling. These days we can’t watch a live sporting event without being bombarded by bookmaker’s adverts, or tunes from gambling ads becoming ear worms. Sporting figures, TV and even gambling industry representatives have voiced their concern, as have many parents.
According to the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Australians spend more money gambling than on alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. In 2014, gamblers supported the gambling industry to the tune of $21 billion dollars. The government has also been a beneficiary – taking revenue in excess of $5 billion each year.
But, finally, the gravy train might be about to stop – along with those annoying gambling ads.
In a bid to relax Australia’s media ownership laws, the Government has identified gambling reforms as a key bargaining chip with influential SA Senator Nick Xenophon and his three NXT Senators, who are all passionate advocates for gambling reform.
In exchange for support to pass its media ownership deregulation bill, the Government now appears to be considering banning gambling ads from TV.
Gambling reform ramped up in 2016, led by Independents Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie who pushed $1 bet limits on poker machines and a ban on gambling ads. With the Government apparently willing to deal, gambling ads could be back on the reform table. A media reform package, designed by Senator Mitch Fifield, will be debated in the Senate in coming weeks.
The Greens have long supported a ban on gambling ads; Labor also has stated the need to phase out betting ads during live sporting programs.
Is it possible that the tidal wave of gambling ads could be reduced, if not to a trickle, then at least to a less intrusive level?