Online gambling providers are responsible for half of all gambling ads on Australian TV and radio, according to a new study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The study offers insights into the volume and expenditure of gambling advertising in Australia between May 2022 and April 2023, utilising Nielsen’s Ad Intel data.
Nielsen Ad Intel is an advertising information service that employs spot monitoring methodology to quantify advertising spots on both broadcast and online platforms.
The research found that more than 1 million gambling ads were aired on free-to-air TV and radio, with 50% of these, equating to 502,800 spots, dedicated to promoting online gambling.
Digging deeper into the findings, the ACMA observed that over half a million (504,100) gambling ads were specifically broadcast on metropolitan TV, which refers to television broadcasts in urban areas.
More than half of these ads, precisely 51%, or 256,200 spots, were ads from online gambling providers.
The prevalence of iGaming providers was even more pronounced on regional free-to-air TV, where 58% of the total gambling ads, amounting to 196,400 spots, were attributed to them.
Gambling advertising spots on free-to-air TV peak in the evenings, with 22% of gambling ads shown on free-to-air TV airing between 7pm and 10pm.
The study also analyed spending patterns for gambling advertising during the specified period.
A total of A$238.63m was invested in promoting gambling on free-to-air TV, metro radio, and online platforms, including social media.
Of this total spending, the lion’s share, roughly 68%, was allocated to free-to-air TV markets, with A$133m spent in metropolitan areas and A$29m in regional markets.
A significant 15% of the budget was directed toward social media advertising, amounting to A$34.6m.
Additionally, 9% of the funds were allocated to metropolitan radio markets, totalling A$22.4m.
An additional 8% was channeled into other online platforms, such as websites and apps, resulting in an expenditure of A$19.5m.
Providers of online gambling services outspent other categories, accounting for 64% of the total advertising expenditure.
To ban or not to ban?
The topic of gambling advertising has become a subject of intense discussion in Australia, with domestic heavyweight Tabcorp recently opting to voluntarily halt its promotions on free-to-air television from 6.30am to 8.30pm.
Currently, broadcasters in Australia are restricted from showing gambling ads during coverage of live sporting events shown between 5am and 8:30pm.
In June, Australia’s lower house released a report that recommended a comprehensive ban on all forms of gambling advertising, to be introduced gradually over a period of three years.
The ACMA stated that during a time of heightened interest in the impact of gambling advertising, it considers its latest research “a useful contribution” to the broader debate on any policy or regulatory reform in this area.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has requested that five unlicensed gambling operators be blocked by internet service providers.
The five online gambling sites – Viperspin, Just Casino, Betandplay, Play Fina and Comic Play Casino – were found to be in breach of the country’s 2001 Interactive Gambling Act.
All of the casinos are also unreachable from the UK due to location blocks, except for Comic Play Casino. Several of the sites in breach offer online gambling with cryptocurrencies.
Comic Play Casino offers Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum as payment options, for example.
Online casino is not a regulated gambling vertical in Australia.
Since the ACMA made its first blocking request, 835 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked, while 215 illegal services have pulled out of the Australian market since the regulator started enforcing new offshore gambling rules in 2017.
Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options used by ACMA to protect Australians against offshore online gambling.
Action is usually taken when a website is providing prohibited interactive gambling services to customers in Australia, such as online casino, or when gambling services are not protected by domestic laws.
Many of the sites prohibited by ACMA are licensed in Curaçao.
Earlier this year, the authority reached out to Curaçao finance minister Javier Silvania in an effort to prevent the island’s licensed operators from targeting Australian players.
Australia is set to rubber stamp a ban on online wagering with credit cards as the country’s Albanese Labor Government looks to further reduce the risk of gambling-related harm.
The ban, which was originally announced in April, looks set to be made official in parliament today (13 September) as part of The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023.
Crucially, the bill will expand the remit of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The regulator will now be awarded the power to fine operators in breach of the new guidelines for an amount up to A$234,750.
Once the legislation is approved, there will be a six-month grace period for the new credit card laws as gambling companies and their customers get accustomed to the transition.
Australia’s regulated gambling industry has largely come out in support of the ban. The UK outlawed gambling with credit cards in April 2020.
“It’s as simple as this: people should not be betting with money they do not have,” said Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.
“The Australian government remains committed to protecting Australians from gambling harms.
“Legislating a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling will help to protect vulnerable Australians and their loved ones,” she added.
Australia has the highest annual gambling losses per person in the world at around A$1,300 per adult, totalling more than A$25bn according to the Australian Financial Review.
The Australian government – led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – has introduced several gambling-related restrictions since taking charge in May 2022, including through implementing measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework.
These include the introduction of monthly activity statements to outline wins and losses and new evidence-based taglines to replace ‘Gamble Responsibly’.
Nationally consistent safer gambling training for staff working at online operators has also been introduced, while the BetStop self-exclusion register has also been launched.
Further regulation is coming, including mandatory customer pre-verification, where an operator must verify a user’s identity before allowing them to place a bet.
Future measures are expected to be revealed once the government has considered the recommendations outlined by a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, with a meeting of state, territory and Commonwealth ministers to be held before the end of the year.
“You can’t use your credit card to place a bet for land-based gambling and the same rules should apply for online gambling too,” said Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.
“We’re serious about protecting vulnerable Australians from the harm we know online gambling can cause. Any platform breaching the new rules will face penalties.
“We know minimising the harm caused by online gambling is not a set and forget exercise and I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts on what comes next to continue this positive change,” she added.
Ahead of the publication of Curaçao’s new gambling regulations, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has reached out to finance minister Javier Silvania in an effort to prevent Curaçao-licensed operators from targeting Australian players.
iGaming NEXT has learned that Curaçao has made significant progress in developing its new licensing model and that the new gambling regulations will be revealed in the coming weeks.
The Dutch-Caribbean island initially announced it would have new gaming regulation in place by Q2 2023.
Curaçao’s intention to implement a new iGaming regime and tighten up oversight of the industry did not go down well with some sectors of the iGaming industry that were in favour of the island’s lenient approach to gambling regulation.
iGaming NEXT discovered that Curaçao-licensed companies were working on back-up plans behind-the-scenes due to concerns that the island would move to introduce new deposit thresholds and trigger KYC procedures.
Last year, Silvania said he had listened to the concerns of the industry and Curaçao was moving towards “more innovative legislation” as part of a broader process to modernise its gaming sector.
Curaçao’s new gambling law is called the National Ordinance on Games of Chance, or LOK for short.
Under the LOK, companies will be able to apply for both B2C and B2B licences, which will be valid for a period of five years.
The current structure of master licences and sub-licences will no longer be allowed.
The newly established Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA) will be tasked with the licensing, enforcement and supervision of all licence holders.
A letter from Australia
In a recent development, Silvania shared a letter on his Facebook page that he received from the Australian media watchdog ahead of the publication of Curaçao’s new regulatory regime.
The ACMA pointed out that it had identified several Curaçao-licensed websites that are operating in Australia in breach of Australia’s 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, which prohibits iGaming and in-play sports betting.
The ACMA said that it notified both the online casinos and their master licensees to cease offering gambling services in Australia.
Despite the Australian regulator’s writing, the companies continued to operate in Australia, the ACMA said.
“This may be relevant to CGA’s assessment of the suitability of a gaming operator to hold a licence under Curaçao’s reformed regulatory regime,” the ACMA wrote in its letter to Minister Silvania.
The Australian regulator added that due to the global nature of online gambling, it can be challenging to enforce Australian law when an entity is located overseas.
Therefore, the ACMA said it “would welcome any opportunity to engage with the CGA once established, to share information or coordinate action against the provision of online gambling services in breach of Australian laws”.
Earlier this year, the ACMA already issued IP blocking orders against several Curaçao-licensed websites.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has imposed a A$13,320 infringement notice on Entain for accepting illegal online in-play bets.
The ACMA discovered the operator accepted 78 online in-play bets on the final day of the Bangkok LIV Golf tournament in October 2022.
Live in-play sports betting is officially banned in Australia, along with online casino.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said online in-play betting laws are in place to protect vulnerable people.
“Online in-play betting increases the risk for those people experiencing gambling harm as it provides fast outcomes and allows for higher frequency of bets,” O’Loughlin said.
Entain reported to the ACMA that the breaches occurred due to its parent company inputting the incorrect start time for the event into their systems.
As a result, 59 bets were accepted via the operator’s Ladbrokes brand and 19 via the Neds brand after the event had commenced.
Alerted by a customer
All bets were voided when the error was brought to Entain’s attention by a customer, three hours after play had started.
“Entain is a highly experienced wagering operator and it is disappointing it did not have internal procedures in place to prevent or detect the error,” O’Loughlin said.
“The ACMA made it clear to the industry last year that they must have robust systems in place to ensure that online in-play bets are not made available or accepted,” she added.
In addition to paying the infringement notice, Entain has informed the ACMA that it has reviewed and updated its in-play compliance policy to prevent similar errors from happening again.
This is the first infringement notice the ACMA has issued for a breach of in-play betting rules.
Last year, the ACMA investigated Flutter-owned Sportsbet for a suspected breach of in-play betting rules.
However, it later cleared the company of any wrongdoing.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a formal warning to sports streaming platform Kayo for breaching gambling ad rules.
The regulator said that Kayo contravened the rules by showing gambling advertisements during an AFL match between Fremantle and Collingwood in May 2022.
According to Australia’s broadcasting regulations, gambling ads cannot be streamed during live sport events between 5am and 8.30pm, including the five minutes before and after the event.
The ACMA investigation found that two Sportsbet adverts were streamed on the Kayo service within five minutes before play commenced and during scheduled breaks.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin: “Gambling advertising during live sport is a major concern for Australians. Families want to watch live sport without needing to worry that children may come to think of gambling as a part of the game.”
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said audiences expect streaming platforms to show live sports in accordance with the rules.
“Streaming services need to comply with the rules in the same way traditional television broadcasters do,” she said.
“Gambling advertising during live sport is a major concern for Australians. Families want to watch live sport without needing to worry that children may come to think of gambling as a part of the game.”
The streaming platform admitted to the breach but said the gambling adverts were shown due to a system error.
However, according to the authority, Kayo took several measures to improve its systems and processes for scheduling advertising during the investigation.
The streaming service implemented live production testing, technical enhancements, and will have senior management review and approve future system changes that may affect its compliance with the rules.
Gambling advertising is currently a highly debated issue in Australia.
Recently, domestic giant Tabcorp made the voluntary decision to cease advertising on free-to-air television between 6.30am and 8.30pm.
Fresh IP blocking orders
The communications watchdog has also issued IP blocking orders against four illegal offshore gambling websites.
An ACMA investigation found them to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act.
The latest sites blocked are Firefox Casino, Shazam Casino, Rich Prize and Heaps O Wins.
Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options to protect Australians against offshore online gambling.
In total, 723 illegal gambling and affiliate websites are currently blocked.
The ACMA made its first blocking request in November 2019.
More than 200 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.
Australian sole trader Noah Rose, trading as BetDeluxe, has been ordered to pay a A$50,172 infringement notice over spam advertising.
This comes after an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found the brand had sent more than 800,000 texts without the sender’s contact details and another 100,000 without an unsubscribe notice.
The communications watchdog said this is the latest enforcement outcome from a crackdown on spam advertising.
In February 2022, Sportsbet paid A$3.7m in penalties and customer refunds after bulk messaging customers who had already tried to unsubscribe.
BetDeluxe’s texts, sent between December 2021 and February 2022, encouraged customers to have a “cheeky punt” at their “VIP service” for racing and sports, also promoting bonus bets and money-back offers.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin: “The online gambling industry, including the smaller players, should be on notice that the ACMA is actively monitoring for indications of non-compliance with the spam rules, and the penalties can be serious.”
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said it was unacceptable to send commercial messages with no way for consumers to opt out.
“We received complaints from a significant number of people, with many expressing their frustration about receiving promotions for gambling,” she said.
“Any spam can be annoying, but when gambling is involved the risk of financial and emotional harm can be pronounced, so it’s important that wagering operators take compliance very seriously,” O’Loughlin added.
Not just larger companies
BetDeluxe has agreed to a two-year court-enforceable undertaking with the ACMA and committed to an independent review of its e-marketing practices.
Additionally, the operator must provide spam training to its staff and give regular compliance reports to the ACMA.
“We will be closely monitoring BetDeluxe’s compliance and the legally binding commitments it has made to the ACMA,” O’Loughlin said.
“The online gambling industry, including the smaller players, should be on notice that the ACMA is actively monitoring for indications of non-compliance with the spam rules, and the penalties can be serious.”
Over the past 18 months, the Australian authority has issued A$6.4m in penalties to businesses for breaching spam and telemarketing laws.
It has also accepted 13 court-enforceable undertakings and given one formal warning.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ramped up efforts to block illegal gambling websites with IP blocking orders against six operators.
The sites were found to be operating in breach of Australia’s 2001 Interactive Gambling Act.
The latest blocked sites are: Pokie Surf, 24 Casino, Stellar Spins, Olympia Casino Rock n Reels and Boomerang Casino.
The websites are either licensed in Curaçao or operate without a licence.
Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options available to ACMA to protect Australians against illegal online gambling.
IP blocking drive
In November, ACMA moved to shut down several Curaçao-licensed crypto casinos.
Since the authority’s first blocking request in November 2019, a total of 686 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked.
Over 190 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the authority started enforcing its illegal offshore gambling rules.
“The ACMA is reminding consumers that even if a service looks legitimate, it’s unlikely to have important customer protections.
“This means Australians who use illegal gambling services risk losing their money,” the authority said.
Last summer, the authority issued one of its most “significant” IP blocking orders against the website thepokies.net.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin (pictured) commented at the time that the authority had received more complaints about the website than about any other operator.
“Complaints have ranged from people who have lost significant amounts of money through to the site refusing to honour deposits and winnings.
“By blocking access to sites like this we are sending a strong message that the ACMA can and will take action to stop illegal operators from targeting Australians,” O’Loughlin had said.
Other regulators, including Germany’s Gambling Supervision Authority (GGL), have faced challenges in IP blocking.
First, several ISPs have refused to follow the GGL’s informal blocking orders, and in January a court ruled that there was no legal basis for the IP blocking orders issued by GGL against Lottoland Group.
Australian betting operators must shelve the “gamble responsibly” advertising tagline in favour of seven stricter safer gambling mottos from March 2023.
Online bookmakers such as Ladbrokes, Betr and Sportsbet will be required to ask punters a series of harder hitting questions under new rules enforced by the Australian government.
The new straplines are as follows:
“Chances are you’re about to lose”
“Imagine what you could be buying instead”
“You win some. You lose more”
“What’s gambling really costing you?”
“Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?”
“What are you prepared to lose? Set a deposit limit”
“What are you really gambling with?”
Online operators must rotate between each tagline equally over a 12-month period and each message must be accompanied by a support number and the gamblinghelponline.org.au domain.
The messages will be applied to all TV, radio, print and social media advertising.
All Australian states and territories have agreed to the new marketing rules which have become part of the National Consumer Protection Framework.
According to Gambling Research Australia, the country has the highest annual gambling losses per capita at A$1,276.
In addition, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found Australians lost around A$25bn on legal forms of gambling between 2018 and 2019.
“Evidence and research clearly show the ‘gamble responsibly’ message doesn’t do the job of getting people to think and to minimise harm,” said Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth.
“The new taglines, which were agreed with all state territories and the Commonwealth, are evidence-based and they actually have been shown to work,” she added.
Last month, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) slammed two media networks for breaking marketing rules by broadcasting gambling ads during live coverage of the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that broadcasters Seven Network and Nine Network both contravened rules around gambling advertising by showing betting promotions during sporting events.
An investigation undertaken by the Authority found that between July and August 2021, Seven Network aired 49 betting promos during its coverage of the Tokyo Olympics on its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide broadcasts, while also showing gambling ads on its live stream of the Olympics.
A separate investigation found that Nine Network had broadcast a gambling ad at 8:21pm during the half-time break of the National Rugby League grand final in October 2021.
According to Australian advertising regulations, broadcasters are prohibited from showing gamblings ads during their coverage of live sports events between 5am and 8:30pm.
After that watershed, gambling ads can be broadcast but are restricted to defined breaks, while for long-form events including the Olympics, broadcasters must not show the ads from five minutes before the start of the first event of the day until after 8:30pm, and not more than once every two hours after that.
Those rules also apply to live streams of sporting events, ACMA said.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin: “Many families enjoy watching sport as a shared activity and parents worry that children exposed to these ads may normalise betting as a part of sport. It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”
“These rules exist to address community concerns about excessive exposure to betting promotions. Both Seven and Nine are well aware that they have to keep these ads to certain times,” said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
“Many families enjoy watching sport as a shared activity and parents worry that children exposed to these ads may normalise betting as a part of sport. It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”
Both broadcasters have now entered into court-enforceable undertakings with the ACMA, and will be required to implement systems to avoid breaking rules again, in addition to providing further training for staff responsible for the scheduling and broadcast of gambling ads during sport programming.
Seven Network has been issued with an additional formal warning for its live stream breaches.
Both networks must now report back to the ACMA on the training and the effectiveness of newly implemented systems and practices, providing details of how they have resolved any problems arising during their implementation.
The ACMA added that it intends to make a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into online gambling by Australia’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, given its regulatory responsibilities and experience in the sector.