Australian Radio Restrictions of 2019 and Their Complications

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( — October 30, 2019) — Australia is known for its love and passion for gambling. They’re in no doubt the most avid gamblers in the world: almost every four out of five Aussies are involved in any form of gambling. The industry is also responding to such demand with various bonuses and promotions such as casino free spins for Australians or a vast number of various welcome packages. 

The country is also famous for its somewhat liberal gambling legislation. However, there are still some exceptions: the Australian government has started to pay more attention to the issue of problem gambling, as well as more responsible use of pokies, sports betting, and other forms of gambling.

It was for this reason that the 2018 radio regulation has been enacted. Under the new legislation, there are several restrictions for the Aussie radios in terms of gambling advertisements.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the 2018 legislation, as well as bring some examples of successful and unsuccessful implementations of this law.

2018 gambling regulation

In September 2018, Australia banned commercial gambling ads from live stream sporting events. This measure brought together online and brick-and-mortar operators in terms of regulatory restrictions.

According to the regulation, the radio providers were prohibited from airing gambling advertisements between the hours of 5 am and 8:30 pm, as well as those short five-minute breaks preceding and following the sporting events.

The idea behind the restriction was to make gambling-related activities more ‘covered’ from the public sight and somehow prevent the rampant rise of sports betting, as well as other wagering activities. In effect, it would reduce the number of problem gamblers in the country.

And while many providers comply with these restrictions, there are some who manage to behave differently.

SEN+’s 10:58 am gambling ad

In September, the Australian Communications and Media Authority announced that Melbourne-based online sports radio SEN+ had failed to comply with the legal requirements and aired a betting advertisements during live coverage of Australian Open women’s tournament in January.

First, the ad aired at 10:58 am, which defies one restriction; and second, it aired during the sporting event. So, two rules at once.

According to SEN+, airing the ad during this time was unacceptable but, for their defense, they announced that it was due to the technical error of unexpected scheduling delay.

As a remedial measure, the ACMA required radio provider’s owner Pacific Star Network to create a commission that would audit its processes and staff, as well as train them to meet new regulatory standards. And after the audit is complete, Pacific Star Network will be required to report the findings to the ACMA or face penalties.

Flutter Entertainment and its irritating ad

Besides the online regulations, it seems not other platform providers want to comply with restrictions, as well as social norms completely. Flutter Entertainment, a Sportsbet brand, aired an ad online, as well as on TV which managed to piss off almost everyone.

In this iPhone betting app advertisement, almost everyone starting from Australian vegans to American flat-earthers have been ridiculed and mocked by showcasing how easy it is to use the app even for dummies. And even though pretty much everyone was irritated by this promo, Flutter Entertainment still managed to get away without any legal consequences.

The ad received complaints and was suggested to be dealt with accordingly under the Ad Standards Community Panel. Among the complainers were vegans, Nigerians, rugby players, and many more.

As if the ad wasn’t enough, Sportsbet responded with the suggestion to get over the ad and grow up. Interestingly enough, Ad Standard’s reviewers considered this response sufficient.

All in all, Australia might be the biggest gambling lover in the world, but it still poses some restraints to its constituents.

Restriction with exceptions

With the recent 2018 restriction, the country banned airing gambling promos during certain times of the day, as well as during the sporting events. The aim of this regulation is to encourage more responsible gambling.

However, in the cases of SEN+ and Flutter Entertainment, such restrictions don’t seem to make much difference. They still air the ads that either contains gambling or manage to piss off everyone.