Government warns ‘change is needed’ as it mulls proposed gambling ad ban

A proposed ban on gambling advertising is still being considered, but the government has declared “the status quo is untenable” and change is inevitable.

A parliamentary inquiry late last month handed down a report into the harms posed by online gambling and made 31 sweeping recommendations for reform.

Among them was a three-year phase out of virtually all advertising of gambling, which could cost media proprietors about $300 million a year.

The government said at the time it would carefully consider the reporter and Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has now revealed discussions with stakeholders is advanced.


Appearing on Sunday Agenda on Sky News yesterday, Rowland said “we’re examining [the recommendations] right now and understand consultation on the impacts, just as we said we would.”

“I’ve made it clear that the status quo is untenable, but we are looking very closely at all the findings of the review that has been done in this area. There’s a large number of recommendations there.”

Rowland added that the government’s talks are being carried out “methodically” and that stakeholders include “broadcasters”.

“That will go through our normal Cabinet processes. But again, we’re very mindful that the status quo is untenable, and change does need to be made in this area.”

While the government is reluctant to say when its decision might be made, Rowland said some of the recommendations covered multiple portfolios or have already been implemented.

“Some of them overlap with Social Services, and for some of them, the intent of them has actually already been implemented. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I announced a start date for BetStop, which is a way in which, with a single touch, a person can self-exclude from all forms of online wagering.

“We’ve also implemented the last parts of the National Consumer Protection Framework, including updating those taglines.”

The inquiry’s proposed gambling ad ban sparked upset among broadcasters and gambling operators, with groups warning of “significant negative impacts”.

Gai Le Roy, chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, expressed concern about a proposed outright ban, describing it as “not a proportionate response”.

Le Roy warned that restrictions on advertising in the current economic climate would “affect the industry’s ability to support the delivery of freely available content and services online”.

It is a warning echoed by Free TV Australia – the lobby group for Seven, Nine and Ten – which said an ad ban would lead to a drop in spend on Australian content. Commercial Radio and Audio also warned of content investment consequences stemming from significant revenue losses.


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