The Guardian’s Ban on Gambling Advertising: A Game-Changer for the Industry?

The Guardian’s Ban on Gambling Advertising: A GameChanger for the Industry
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The Guardian has recently announced a global ban on all forms of gambling advertising. The media outlet stated they don’t wish to profit from gambling ads, gambling promotions or any services which promote riskier betting behaviour.

In this article, we’ll explore what the gambling advertising ban means and its impacts on the online gambling industry. We’ll also discuss some of the broader issues around sports gambling ads in Australia.

Why Has The Guardian Implemented a Betting Advertising Ban?

The Guardian has issued a blanket global ban on all gambling ads across each of its publications. Guardian Media Group’s Australian Chief Executive, Anna Bateson, believes the news outlet has an obligation to do the right thing for readers.

The Guardian will no longer accept advertising money from gambling companies or gambling sponsors. The intention is to help reduce gambling harm. Which the outlet believes may be linked to an increase in betting advertising and sports betting ads worldwide.

Reducing riskier gambling behaviour

A recent study by the University of Sheffield showed a correlation between exposure to gambling advertising and increased intent to gamble regularly. Ms Bateson believes that this correlation could lead to a surge in public health and social problems. Such as mental health issues, particularly for young people. She welcomes the ban on gambling ads despite the impact it will have on the organisation’s bottom line.

The decision comes at a time of rapid growth of online betting on sporting events. Australians, particularly young adults, are gambling more than ever. Access to sports betting and online gambling has never been easier with the use of mobile devices.

Community concerns about gambling harm

Community concerns have been a significant factor in the publication’s decision to ban gambling ads in Australia. Many people believe gambling ads and sports betting are becoming normalised among children and young people. And that action is needed to limit children’s exposure, particularly to the volume of gambling ads shown on free to air tv.

While gambling ads were once limited to live sport on tv, they’ve spread to more mainstream tv programs. Community groups are calling for more to be done to help protect children and young people.

There is also increased public pressure and lobbying at the federal government level to help prevent problem gambling. For example, banning gambling advertising like tobacco advertising. Or introducing tighter measures similar to alcohol advertising in Australia.

What Types of Gambling Ads Are Included in The Ban?

The ban covers all forms of gambling advertising:

  • sports betting
  • gambling products
  • online casinos
  • scratchcards

The only exclusion is lottery, which is believed to offer some positive social benefits as it raises money for good causes.

What Impact Will Banning Gambling Ads Have?

Media outlets worldwide are reliant on revenue from advertising. And online gambling and betting companies are big spenders. For example, in the UK, TV channels say their business models are increasingly dependent on gambling advertising from bookmakers. But it’s not yet clear how many media outlets will have the financial backing to ban gambling ads completely like The Guardian.

Financial impact

Ms Bateson says that The Guardian can make these decisions due to their independent ownership structure. But she does admit the move will cost the publication millions of dollars each year in advertising revenue. She also stated online gambling and sports betting advertising are the fastest-growing ad category.

Emerging platforms for online gambling and betting ads

Parents, in particular, are pushing for change and tighter regulations. Especially as betting advertising begins to move into other forms of media. Social media platforms are now becoming popular channels for gambling promotions. For example, TikTok is trialling gambling advertising in Australia.

Gambling Advertising in Australia

Gambling ads and sports betting advertising are undoubtedly on the rise throughout Australia. Analysis by Nielsen Research shows the gambling industry spent $287.2 million in 2021 on advertising in Australia, up from $89.7 million in 2011. In 2021, there was an average of 948 gambling advertisements broadcast daily on free to air tv in Victoria. Up from 374 daily ads on free to air tv in 2016.

The Australian Gambling Research Centre states that 78% of Australian adults said they saw or heard betting advertising at least once a week over the past year. And around 40% stated they saw gambling advertisements four or more times a week.

Current gambling advertising restrictions

Each state has slightly different rules when it comes to advertising and the gambling industry. For example, in Victoria there is a ban on gambling and sports betting ads on roads and public transport, and within 150 metres of schools. In a recent review of gambling ads, NSW, Queensland and Tasmania governments said existing rules are insufficient. While South Australia suggested an outright ban on sports-betting ads.

Responsible Gambling and Young People

According to a new report conducted by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, one in four children can name four gambling brands or more. Highlighting just how often gambling-like content is shown during family-friendly shows on free to air tv.

Young people are at the most risk of gambling harm, particularly between the ages of 18 and 34. Largely because of the increased volume of advertising throughout radio, TV and online.

Additional Changes to Australia’s Gambling Industry

The Albanese Government recently announced that Australian gamblers would be banned from using credit cards for online betting. It’s a move to help address gambling harms associated with problem gambling and encourage punters only to gamble when they have the funds to do so.

But it could signal other changes that may impact the online gambling industry (and gambling ads) in the years to come.

References

  • Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation “948 gambling ads daily on Victorian free-to-air TV in 2021”, https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media/948-gambling-ads-daily-on-victorian-free-to-air-tv-in-2021/
  • The Guardian “Australian gamblers to be banned from using credit cards for online betting”, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/apr/27/australian-gamblers-to-be-banned-from-using-credit-cards-for-online-betting
  • The Guardian “TikTok Australia expands trial of gambling advertising despite widespread criticism”, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/may/20/tiktok-australia-expands-trial-of-gambling-advertising-despite-widespread-criticism
  • Australian Institute of Family Studies “Policy & practice papers: Sports betting and advertising”, https://aifs.gov.au/resources/policy-and-practice-papers/sports-betting-and-advertising
  • Australian Institute of Family Studies “Betting advertising linked to riskier gambling behaviour and greater harm”, https://aifs.gov.au/media/betting-advertising-linked-riskier-gambling-behaviour-and-greater-harm-new-research-finds
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