New gambling advertising rules during live sports | ACMA

New gambling advertising rules during live sports

The ACMA has approved new rules about gambling advertising during the broadcast of live sports on:

A summary table of all the rules that now apply in a broadcast of a live sporting event is available here.

Additional information is provided below.

Information on the broadcasting codes (FAQs)

When do the new broadcasting code restrictions come into effect?

The new rules come into effect on 30 March 2018.

What are the key features of the new rules?

The new rules supplement existing rules about gambling advertising during live sport, introducing more restrictions if the live sport is broadcast between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm.

In general, the rules mean that during live sporting events:

  • that are broadcast between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm each day:

    • no gambling advertising or promotion of odds is permitted from five minutes before the published scheduled start of play, until five minutes after play, including during breaks

    • there are limited exceptions, for example during breaks of extended duration where unrelated programs are broadcast and/or in long form live sporting events (such as the Olympics)

  • that are broadcast between 8.30 pm and 5.00 am each day:

    • no gambling advertising during play (but may be broadcast before and after play and in scheduled and unscheduled breaks)

    • no promotion of odds during play or in breaks of play (but may be broadcast before and after play)

    • there are limited exceptions, for example during breaks of extended duration where unrelated programs are broadcast and/or in long form live sporting events (such as the Olympics)

  • gambling representatives must at all times not be, or appear to be, at, or around, the ground

  • commentators are not permitted to do promotion of odds from 30 minutes before play of a live sport, until 30 minutes after play.

You can view a summary table of all the rules that now apply to a broadcast of a live sporting event.

What is the intention of the rules?

The rules seek to limit the exposure of child audiences to gambling ads and promotion of odds during live sporting events. The rules do this by requiring that live sporting events broadcast between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm (when children are more likely to be watching) have no gambling ads or promotion of odds from five minutes before the scheduled start of play, through until five minutes after the end of play.

How do these rules fit with other gambling rules?

More information on the range of broadcasting rules relevant to gambling advertising can be found on our Alcohol and gambling ads page.

Who do the rules apply to?

The rules apply to:

  • commercial free-to-air television services

  • commercial radio services

  • subscription broadcast and narrowcast television services

  • subscription narrowcast radio services

How were the rules developed?

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

The rules for broadcasters were developed and registered under the co-regulatory scheme in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. This scheme requires broadcasting industry groups to develop the codes, undertake public consultation and present codes to the ACMA for registration.

Commercial Radio Australia, Free TV Australia and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association developed codes, which were released for public consultation in late 2017. Submissions received by each industry group were published on the relevant websites.

The ACMA considered the submissions made and worked with industry groups, post consultation, to ensure that codes provided appropriate community safeguards.

Why did the ACMA register the codes?

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires the ACMA to register a code presented for registration, if it is satisfied that:

  • the code provides appropriate community safeguards for the matters covered; and

  • the code is endorsed by the majority of the providers of the broadcasting services in that section of the industry; and

  • members of the public have been given an adequate opportunity to comment on the code.

The ACMA was satisfied that all three of the above elements were met.

When and how did public consultation on the rules take place?

Commercial Radio Australia, Free TV Australia and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association conducted public consultation, for at least four weeks, in late 2017.

Draft codes by each industry group were published on their websites. Each group publicised the consultation via a media release and social media posts. CRA also placed press adverts in all states and territories.

Submissions received by each industry group were published on the relevant websites and provided to the ACMA for information.

How will the rules apply across time zones?

On commercial free-to-air television and radio services, the relevant time zone is generally that of the viewer or listener.

On subscription services, generally the time zone will be determined with reference to Australian Eastern Standard (or Daylight) Time no matter where the actual sporting event is taking place. However, if a channel has broadcast differing content in different geographical areas, the applicable time zone for each of those areas will apply. If the channel delivers addressable advertising, the relevant time zone is that of the viewer.

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 broadcast 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 or promotions of odds is permitted from 9.25 am until 6.05 pm (that is from five minutes before the scheduled start of play, until five minutes after the end of play)

  • no gambling advertising or promotions of odds is permitted in scheduled or unscheduled breaks. There are limited exceptions, if during breaks (like tea breaks or rain delays) non-related programs of at least 30 minutes are shown and viewers are notified that coverage of the live sporting event is being suspended.

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

The rules will apply in the following way:

  • If broadcast coverage and the scheduled start of play of the event starts before 8.30 pm, the five minutes before scheduled start of play must be free of gambling ads and promotions of odds.

  • No gambling ads or promotions of odds will be permitted during play.

  • If scheduled breaks (for example, half-time) occur:

    • before 8.30 pm, no gambling ads or promotion of odds will be permitted in the break

    • occur after 8.30 pm, gambling ads are permitted but not promotions of odds

    • There are limited exceptions for long form events or breaks of extended duration.

  • If play ends after 8.30 pm, gambling ads and promotions of odds will be permitted after 8.30pm.

How will parents know when children can start watching the broadcast of the event?

To provide clarity and transparency for audiences, the rules provide that a broadcaster may, at least 24 hours before an event, publish a scheduled start of play on their websites, and/or notify electronic program guide providers of the scheduled start of play. If no scheduled start of play is published, the five minutes starts before the program that includes coverage of the live sporting event.

Parents will know that, for broadcasts between 5.00 am to 8.30 pm, no gambling ads or promotions of odds are permitted to be broadcast from the five minutes before this published scheduled start of play (or five minutes before the program if no scheduled start of play is published).

What is a low audience share channel?

Low audience share channels on subscription television are not required to comply with the additional rules, unless they broadcast coverage of an event on the anti-siphoning list, but must still comply with certain restrictions (see below).

A low audience share channel is a subscription television sports channel that has an average audience share over three financial years which does not exceed 0.5%. This is based on OzTAM ratings data and is aggregated for channels that are co-branded or provided by the same licensee or channel provider. Therefore, large channels like Fox Sports and its co-branded smaller channels are not exempt from the rules.

It is a requirement that exempt channels must draw to the attention of prospective viewers that the restrictions do not apply to the channel.

At the time of the registration of the broadcasting codes, low audience share channels included beIN, ESPN and Eurosport channels. A new channel is exempt from the additional restrictions for the first 12 months of its operation, subject to a number of requirements.

Under the subscription television rules, these low audience share channels are still subject to the following restrictions:

  • commentators are not permitted, from 30 minutes before play and until 30 minutes after play to promote odds

  • gambling ads and promotion of odds are not permitted in play (subject to some limited exceptions in long form live sporting events)

  • promotion of odds are not permitted in scheduled or unscheduled breaks

  • gambling representatives must at all times not be, or appear to be, at, or around, the ground.

Will the ACMA be monitoring compliance with these rules?

The ACMA will closely monitor the operation of the new rules and, after 12 months, will consider whether to conduct a review of their effectiveness.

How can I complain about a broadcast?

The complaints mechanism remains unchanged, code complaints should be made directly to the broadcaster in the first instance. More information of how to make a complaint is available here

Do the rules apply to sport streamed online?

No, but similar rules are currently proposed for online content service providers. The ACMA will consult with stakeholders about draft online rules in due course after (and if) the required new legislation is passed by Parliament.

Why didn’t the ACMA just develop rules for online content service providers at the same time as it developed rules for broadcasters?

The ACMA’s role in relation to gambling advertising is currently confined to broadcasting platforms. There is currently legislation before Parliament that proposes amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 which will, if enacted, enable the ACMA to make online content service provider rules for online content service providers.

When will the online rules come into effect?

The ACMA will consult with stakeholders about draft online content rules as soon as practicable after the passage of the enabling legislation.

Last updated: 16 March 2018