ACMA’s new rules for gambling ads

There are few things that Australians find more aggravating than gambling advertising. Complaints about incessant and invasive gambling advertising have steadily risen over the years.

Last year, the Federal Government announced plans to curb gambling advertising as part of its media reform package.

Now, new rules have been unveiled that will see gambling advertising banned during the broadcast of live sports between the hours of 5am and 8:30pm on commercial free-to-air TV, radio and pay TV.

Coming into force on March 30, these new rules are contained in industry codes which have been registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

“The new restrictions on gambling advertising supplement existing rules about gambling advertising during live sport and significantly enhance community safeguards during times when children are part of the audience,’ said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin. 

‘The new rules will also ensure that broadcasters make clear to audiences, including parents, when gambling advertising is prohibited in live sport programming”.

However, Commercial Radio Australia has flagged its concerns that the new rules will create an uneven playing field.

CRA chief executive Joan Warner says delays in imposing similar restrictions for online platforms is a real concern for the industry.

“The industry has taken community concerns about gambling on board and our members are implementing measures to ensure they comply with the new rules when they come into force”.

“We’re concerned that similar restrictions for online platforms have not yet been put in place.  In fact, the legislation that will underpin rules to be developed by the ACMA has not yet been passed by the Parliament”.

Ms Warner argues it could be months before the playing field is fair for all of the ‘players’ whether on-air on-line.

“Even after the legislation is passed there will be a period of development by the ACMA and then a period of public consultation.

This creates a real risk that gambling advertising will simply be shifted online for the time, possibly some months, during which no rules apply.”

The Federal Government announced in May 2017 that the restrictions on gambling ads would apply to commercial radio, commercial and subscription television, SBS and online platforms.   

The new code implements a ban on advertising gambling, including betting odds, between 5.00am and 8.30pm from 5 minutes before the scheduled start of play to 5 minutes after the end of play.

Restrictions will also apply to advertising during long form live sports coverage such as tennis, cricket and the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The changes supplement the existing rules that prohibit the promotion of betting odds during live sport.

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