In the most recent fiscal year, the number of complaints over gambling commercials nearly doubled, prompting Australia’s media regulator to warn that current regulations fall short of what the public expects.
To better safeguard minors and vulnerable Australians, the Australian Communications and Media Authority requested increased authority to impose restrictions on unlawful gambling marketing on Facebook, YouTube, and Google.
The amount of gambling-related inquiries and complaints received by Acma has increased since 2018, it was revealed during a parliamentary hearing.
The organisation wrote in a submission that “the significant volume of complaints we receive indicates that worries remain that children and other vulnerable Australians are exposed to too much gambling advertising.”
The media watchdog received 47 questions or complaints in 2018–19 about gaming commercials. In 2020–2021 it rose to 120, and in 2021–2022 it nearly doubled to 208. 39 additional complaints were made this year between July and September.
Some slipped beyond Acma’s purview or were referred to the broadcaster to handle.
According to the ACMA submission, “these include worries that there is excessive gambling advertising or that gambling ads are aired at unsuitable times, frequently with relation to family viewing times or children watching.”
“Some of these complainants believe gambling advertising should be banned entirely.”
Acma itself has completed 11 ad compliance investigations since July 2018. Four violations of industry codes of conduct and three violations of online rules were identified, resulting in formal warnings, corrective actions, or enforceable obligations.
In May 2018, the Turnbull government restricted sports betting advertising on television from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., banning advertising from five minutes before the match to five minutes after the match.
Acma said these restrictions on broadcast media are working as intended, but said more children are watching sports on streaming services that aren’t subject to the same restrictions.
“Evaluating the effectiveness of gambling advertising rules, especially to protect children, should also take into account changes in children’s visual behavior,” said Akuma’s filing. SportsBet, one of Australia’s largest sports betting companies, told the survey, acknowledging “the great community interest in further limiting the exposure of young and vulnerable people to gambling advertising”. said there is.
But it also advocated “the legitimate right of industry to deal with customers, provided that they do so responsibly.”
Professor Samantha Thomas, a gambling expert at Deakin University, said the increase in complaints “confirms that the community wants action.”
She claimed that the 2018 laws were insufficient to shield communities, particularly children, from gaming marketing.
“While the focus has been on TV ads, she is also seeing more and more kids seeing gambling ads on her social media platforms such as YouTube and more recently TikTok.
“Governments have a clear duty to protect children.”
Acma has encouraged governments to close loopholes that limit their ability to regulate gambling advertising on global platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Twitch. Under current regulations, regulators can only ban the advertising of unlicensed gambling services on these sites if they are confident that the majority of their audience is physically located in Australia.