FAQs: Gambling ads during live streamed sports | ACMA

FAQs: Gambling ads during live streamed sports

The ACMA has approved new Online Rules about gambling promotional content during the streaming of live sports on online content services.

When do the new Online Rules come into effect?

The new Online Rules come into effect on 28 September 2018.

How do I complain?

From 28 September 2018, any person who has reason to believe that an online content service provider has contravened the Online Rules may make a complaint to the ACMA. The ACMA may investigate the complaint if it thinks it is desirable to do so but is not required to conduct an investigation.

What do the Online Rules apply to?

The Online Rules apply to online content services that provide live (or near live) coverage of sporting events, unless the service falls within a particular exemption. Examples of services that currently provide live coverage of sporting events online include:

  • Broadcaster online services—providing online streamed content related to their broadcast content (identical simulcasts of broadcast content are exempt)
  • Content aggregators/curators/syndicators—providing online content from different online sources for reuse or resale. This includes services that only gather content from various sources for their service, as well as those that gather and distribute content to suit their customers’ needs.
  • Live content providers—providing streaming services for a range of sports, including local and amateur codes.
  • Social networking services—providing online coverage of sporting events.
  • Sporting organisations and organising bodies—providing online content of their sport direct to consumer services. This includes Australian sporting bodies, as well as international entities that provide services to Australian audiences.
  • Wagering providers – providing live sports coverage to wagering customers, unless they are exempt under the class exemption for Australian-licensed wagering services.

What is gambling promotional content?

Gambling promotional content covers a broad range of promotional content. Schedule 8 of the legislation defines ‘gambling promotional content’ to mean:

  • advertising content,
  • sponsorship content, or
  • promotional content

that relates to a gambling service.

What do the Online Rules do?

The Online Rules seek to limit the exposure to child audiences of all gambling promotional content during live sporting events streamed online. There are restrictions on gambling advertising during live sport at all times, but stricter requirements between 5.00 am to 8.30 pm when children are more likely to be watching.     

Requirements between 5.00 am to 8.30 pm:

  • Gambling promotional content of all kinds is prohibited from five minutes before the scheduled start of the sporting event, until five minutes after play ends.
  • The prohibition includes any scheduled or unscheduled breaks in play.

Requirements between 8.30 pm to 5.00 am:

  • Gambling promotional content of all kinds is prohibited during play.
  • Some gambling promotional content is permitted during scheduled and unscheduled breaks.
  • Betting odds type promotional content is only allowed as part of a distinct break in play of at least 90 seconds, and the number of times this can occur depends on the sport. For example, in tennis, this cannot be more than once per session and has to be between matches. For golf, this cannot be more than once on each day of competition.

Requirements at all times:

  • Gambling representatives must not be, or appear to be, at or around the ground from 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the sporting event, until 30 minutes after play ends.
  • Commentators are not permitted to do promotion of odds from 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the sporting event, until 30 minutes after play ends.
  • Any permitted gambling promotional content must adhere to requirements to be socially responsible, including by not being directed to children or portraying children as participating in betting or gambling.

How will I know when children can start watching/listening to the online stream of the event?

  • To provide clarity and transparency for audiences, the rules encourage online content service providers to publish or notify a specified start of live coverage of a sporting event.
  • This publication or notification must occur at least 24 hours before the start of the coverage and it must be clear and prominent to potential end-users.
  • How this publication or notification is done will depend on the service. For example, it could be on the landing page of the service, in an electronic program guide (if one is available) or via email or push notification.

If no scheduled start is published or notified:

The commencement of restrictions is determined by reference to the beginning of the live coverage of the sporting event. For example, if no scheduled start has been published, then the restrictions commence when the service starts streaming the live sporting event (even if ‘play’ hasn’t commenced).

What will happen if online coverage of a live sporting event starts before 8.30 pm, but doesn’t end until after 8.30 pm?

Where online coverage of a live sporting event starts before 8.30 pm and continues after that time, the rules applying to that event will change after the 8.30 pm threshold.

Before 8:30 pm:

  • Gambling promotional content of all kinds is prohibited from five minutes before the scheduled start of the sporting event.
  • The prohibition includes any scheduled or unscheduled breaks in play, but there are limited exceptions; for example, during breaks of extended duration where unrelated content is streamed and/or in long-form live sporting events (such as the Olympics).

After 8:30 pm:

  • Gambling promotional content of all kinds is prohibited during play.
  • Some gambling promotional content is permitted during scheduled and unscheduled breaks.
  • Betting odds type promotional content is only allowed as part of a distinct break in play of at least 90 seconds, and the number of times this can occur depends on the sport. For example, in tennis, this cannot be more than once per session and has to be between matches. For golf, this cannot be more than once on each day of competition.
  • Gambling representatives must not be, or appear to be, at or around the ground until 30 minutes after play ends.
  • Commentators are not permitted to do promotion of odds from 30 minutes before play of a live sport, until 30 minutes after play ends.
  • Any gambling promotional content must adhere to requirements to be socially responsible, including by not being directed to children or portraying children as participating in betting or gambling.

Are e-sports covered?

Yes. Electronic games competitions (e-sports) are explicitly included as sporting events in the Online Rules.

What about live sport that comes from overseas?

The Online Rules apply if the service has a geographical link to Australia. This could include live sport that comes from overseas. A geographical link exists if the service is targeted to individuals who are physically present in Australia, or any of the content is likely to appeal to the public in Australia.

How will time zones apply to online platforms?

The Online Rules provide that the relevant time zone for the application of the rules is the time where the end-user of the online content service is located.

Service providers will need to ensure that their services take into account the time zone of all potential viewers physically present in Australia when applying the Online Rules and apply the Online Rules appropriately in the location or apparent location of each end-user.

How will the rules apply to long-form events like test cricket, tennis tournaments and the Olympics?

Long-form live sporting events will be treated as a single live sporting event. Between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm, audiences will have the benefit of the additional protections for the duration of the long-form sporting event.

For example, if coverage of the test cricket is streamed online between 9.00 am and 6.30 pm, with the published start of play being 9.30 am, and play ending at 6.00 pm:

  • no gambling advertising (including promotions of odds) is permitted from 9.25 am until 6.05 pm (that is, from five minutes before the scheduled start, until five minutes after the end of play)
  • no commentator betting odds promotions or gambling representative venue-based promotions are permitted from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
  • no gambling advertising (including promotions of odds) is permitted in scheduled or unscheduled breaks.

Are there record-keeping obligations under the Online Rules?

Yes. The Online Rules include record-keeping obligations on online content service providers that provide gambling promotional content on online content services, in conjunction with live coverage of a sporting event. In summary, service providers must keep sufficient records to demonstrate compliance with the Online Rules. It is up to providers to determine what records demonstrate compliance, but in any event providers must:

  • keep copies of commercial arrangements relating to gambling promotional content
  • make and keep written records of the date and duration of the content stream containing the live sporting event and the location of end-users where known
  • keep audio or audio-visual records (as the case may be) of the stream of live coverage.

Online content service providers must give these records to the ACMA upon request.

What sporting events are excluded from the Online Rules?

Horse racing, harness racing and greyhound racing are excluded.

For the purposes of the Online Rules, horse racing, harness racing and greyhound racing are not a ‘sporting event’. This is consistent with exclusions for these events in the broadcasting codes.

What services are exempt from the Online Rules?

The scheme contemplates three classes of exempt service:

  • Online simulcast services.
  • Class exemptions for online services that are Australian-licensed wagering services.
  • Individual exemptions that the ACMA assesses on a case-by-case basis based on strict criteria.

Read additional information about exemptions and how to submit a request for an individual exemption.

Will the ACMA be monitoring compliance with the Online Rules?

The ACMA will monitor complaints and other information it receives in the course of administering the Online Rules. It will also conduct a program of research concerning gambling advertising.

How do these Online Rules fit with other gambling rules?

There are also broadcasting rules in codes of practice relevant to gambling advertising that apply to live sport content on television and radio.

Are the Online Rules the same as the rules for broadcasters (television and radio)?

The Online Rules are substantially similar to the broadcasting codes, but there are several areas where the rules are not expressed in identical terms. Key differences:

  • accommodate the relatively broad range of different services that fit within the definition of online content services
  • address the operational practices between online streaming and broadcast transmissions
  • relate to the particular drafting of definitions and parameters in Schedule 8 to the BSA.

These differences reflect the fact that the operating environments for broadcasting and online content provision and advertising are not equivalent and that the rules for broadcasters are set under co-regulatory codes of practice, while the Online Rules are a legislative instrument made under Schedule 8 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA).

Why didn’t the ACMA make rules for broadcasters and online services at the same time?

To enable the ACMA to make rules for online services, legislation needed to be passed by Parliament to amend the BSA. The relevant legislation was enacted on 12 April 2018, and the ACMA immediately commenced consultation on the first draft of the Online Rules.

Background

How were the rules developed?

In May 2017, the Minister for Communications announced additional restrictions on gambling advertising during live sporting events.

Amendments to the BSA, which took effect in April 2018, enabled the ACMA to make online content service provider rules for online content service providers.  

When and how did public consultation on the Online Rules take place?

The ACMA conducted two rounds of public consultation on the Online Rules, in early and mid-2018.

Drafts of the Online Rules were published on the ACMA website and the consultation was published via a media release and social media posts.

Submissions received were published on the ACMA website.

The ACMA considered the submissions and worked to ensure that the Online Rules provided appropriate community safeguards.

Last updated: 09 October 2018