Monitoring online gambling advertising restrictions during live sport

Gambling advertising monitoring program

The ACMA has been monitoring how the new gambling advertising restrictions during live sport on TV, radio and online have been operating since they began in 2018.

In November 2019, the ACMA published a research report with findings from our first 12 months of monitoring gambling ads. The research looked at the placement and number of gambling ads on TV, radio and online, before and after the new restrictions were introduced. It also looked at people’s awareness of the new rules and attitudes towards gambling advertising.

During these first 12 months, the ACMA did not identify any major issues with the operation of the broadcasting code restrictions.

However, because of some inconsistencies in providers notifying scheduled start times, and issues with record-keeping obligations, the ACMA decided to keep monitoring how the Online Content Service Provider Rules (the Online Rules) operated for another year.

In our second period of monitoring the Online Rules, the ACMA compared information about the ‘scheduled start of play’ on platforms with the placement of gambling ads during live streamed sports coverage.

The ACMA also contacted online providers to get extra information about their gambling advertising practices. During the period, the ACMA conducted 3 investigations under the Online Rules.

Findings

The ACMA did not identify any major concerns about the operation of the Online Rules. However, there were some inconsistencies in how providers interpreted the rules. These included:

Use of exemptions

  • The Broadcasting Service Act 1992 (BSA) allows for an identical online simulcast of a live sporting event to be exempt from the Online Rules (this is because the live sporting event would be subject to broadcasting codes of practice). The ACMA found this exemption is being widely used, and sometimes combined with an exemption for low audience share subscription television channels from the broadcasting codes of practice restrictions.
  • As the size of online audiences for live sporting events continues to grow in Australia, it may be relevant to also consider the potential online audience share for live sporting events broadcast on TV, so that exemptions continue to apply as intended, where there are genuinely small audiences.

Record-keeping requirements

  • The ACMA found that online providers are making and keeping records of gambling ads shown during live sporting events, as required by the Online Rules. However, the types of records kept by individual providers vary.
  • To avoid potential record-keeping breaches, the ACMA encourage providers to consider whether their records comply with the Online Rules, particularly for unique, digitally-inserted advertising.

Although our formal monitoring program has now ended, the environment for broadcasting and streaming live sporting events is evolving. We’ll keep watching developments in this sector and how these interact with gambling advertising restrictions.

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