The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that the Seven Network and Nine Network have each contravened rules around gambling advertising by showing betting promotions during sporting events.
An ACMA investigation found that throughout July and August 2021, Seven aired 49 betting promotions during its Olympic coverage on its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide broadcasts. Seven was also found to have made gambling advertisements available on its live stream of the Olympics.
A separate investigation found that Nine broadcast a gambling advertisement at 8:21pm during the half-time break of the NRL grand final on 3 October 2021.
Broadcasters are restricted from showing gambling advertising during their coverage of live sporting events shown between 5am and 8:30pm. After 8:30pm gambling ads can be shown but are restricted to defined breaks. For long-form events, such as the Olympics, broadcasters must not show gambling advertising from 5 minutes before the start of the first event of the day until 8:30pm, and not more than once every two hours after that time. These rules also apply to live streams.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said Australians are increasingly concerned about the potentially harmful nature of gambling advertising.
“These rules exist to address community concerns about excessive exposure to betting promotions. Both Seven and Nine are well aware that they have to keep these ads to certain times,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“Many families enjoy watching sport as a shared activity and parents worry that children exposed to these ads may normalise betting as a part of sport.
“It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”
Seven and Nine have each entered into court-enforceable undertakings with the ACMA, requiring them to implement systems to avoid breaking the rules again and refresh training for staff responsible for the scheduling and broadcast of gambling advertisements during sports programming. They each must also track the complaints and responses about gambling advertisements.
Additionally, Seven has been issued with a formal warning for its live stream breaches.
Both networks must report back to the ACMA on the training and the effectiveness of their new systems and practices, providing details of how they have resolved any issues that arose during that time.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has recently announced a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, including reviewing the effectiveness of current gambling advertising restrictions on limiting children’s exposure to gambling products and services. The ACMA intends to make a submission to the inquiry given its regulatory responsibilities and experience.