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ACMA Registers New Codes of Practice on TV Gambling Advertisements

Tue, Aug 6, 4:25am by Kevin Pitstock

ACMA LogoThe Australian Communications and Media Authority recently put in place new codes of practice which limit advertisements for gambling businesses during Australian sports broadcasts. ACMA’s new codes were registered on August 1st and should limit live betting odds and other gaming adverts during sports shows.

Online reports from Mumbrella have suggested that officials from Australian Communications and Media Authority or “ACMA” relish this  recent opportunity to pass new regulations and have been waiting for this day.

ACMA is a statutory authority within the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The agency’s authority derives from four different statutes passed in the 1990’s:

  1. The Broadcasting Services Act 1992
  2. The Radiocommunications Act 1992
  3. The Telecommunications Act 1997
  4. The Telecommunications Consumer Protection and Service Standards Act 1999

Why ACMA Banned Live Betting Odds

The new code is aimed at the live betting odds more than any other practice. Chris Chapman, Chairman of ACMA, said fans will be able to watch broadcasts without the intrusion of live odds. These ads are considered a special danger for dedicated gamblers.

As gambling has grown in popularity in Australia over the past 15 to 20 years, many citizens have grown concerned about the social issues caused by gambling addiction. Live betting odds create a rapid succession of possible bets, increasing the chance that a problem gambler might lose a serious amount of money during one sports broadcast.

Concerned lawmakers and public policy groups say other reasons exist for passing such regulations, though. In fact, another concern has been used to push new laws, because the argument is seen as a difficult one for pro-gambling advocates to counter.

Children Affected by Gaming Ads

According to supporters of the new codes of practice,  ACMA needs to protect more than the current generation of gamblers. In recent months, much concern has been expressed about the next generation of Australians and what live betting odds might do to their future gaming habits. Family groups have spoken out against live betting odds, because they expose underage children to the business of gambling.

The logic behind this argument is similar to the main reason given for banning tobacco advertisements in places children might be. A century or more of mass marketing has proven that constant bombardment with images and words has an effect on people’s attitudes. This is especially true with the young, who have less perspective on the world and therefore tend to have less scepticism about the commercials they see.

When a constant stream of gambling ads comes on the television screen, it is thought this can plant the seeds for gambling habits later in life. Advocates of a live betting odds ban compare these adverts to the smoking ads of a previous generation. In either case, clever marketing is thought to make the habit more alluring to the impressionable. With strict limitations placed on commercial advertisements, televised sports should be safe for children again.

Effects on Gaming Industry

Despite the well-meaning nature of the new code, it could have unpredictable side effects. Experts on the gambling industry believe the new regulations won’t affect established gambling operations so much. New operators who spend money to foster a brand name are more likely to be have trouble getting noticed by potential gamblers.

Like many other aspects of the Australian gambling industry, government laws tend to favour the establishment, while barring the way for new competition to enter the field. The industry is likely to be dominated by a handful of industry giants, while competition and innovation is squelched.

This means a worse bargain for betting hobbyists and problem gamblers alike, as fewer operators result in these people facing a higher house edge. Those who want to gamble face steeper odds than before. Whether such realities dampen Australians’ natural love of gambling is another matter, as the many bad reports and subsequent reforms have produced only a marginal decline in revenues these past few years.

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