Pleas from Australia’s major sporting codes to prevent the Government from restricting in-match gambling advertising have been met with scorn by South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon.
Cabinet is poised to limit the times when gambling ads can be broadcast on both free-to-air and pay TV, the ABC has revealed, but the AFL and NRL are fighting back, arguing betting agency sponsorship, and the lucrative broadcast deals it attracts, is needed to fund investment at the grassroots.
“I mean really…cry me a river,” Senator Xenophon said, rejecting the codes’ argument.
“I don’t have a violin small enough to play for these sporting codes and the arguments they’re spruiking.
“How about they consider the impact of their greed to ‘get into bed’ with online betting agencies and actually consider the impact it’s had on their fans — an increasing number of whom have fallen by the wayside because of gambling addiction.
“The sporting codes really need to acknowledge they’ve become incredibly commercialised and corporatised in the last 20 years, they’ve become increasingly dependent on gambling revenue, and they’ve become quite greedy about it.
“When you look at the salary packages paid to the executives of these codes, it puts into perspective their community arguments and they need to think about their fans.”
Several weeks ago the Nick Xenophon team proposed a bill seeking to ban gambling ads but it was rebuffed by the Senate Estimates committee.
Preventing early childhood exposure
Gambling researcher Dr Charles Livingstone said the revenue from direct sponsorship from agencies — $60 million for the NRL over five years and an estimated $10 million for the AFL — could easily be found elsewhere.
Dr Charles Livingstone says the sporting codes should pursue other sources of revenue. (ABC News: Mary Gearin)
He also rejected the argument from the codes that the current deals with betting agencies were needed to ensure they get the data required from such companies to help monitor gambling patterns.
“You don’t have to have a commercial relationship in order for the bookmakers to divulge patterns that they regard as suspicious,” he said.
“They already do that in many cases with organisations with which they don’t have a commercial relationship.
“Only one or two of the bookies sponsor every code, but they will share data as necessary to make sure a sport’s integrity is maintained.
“It’s as much in the bookies’ interest as it is in the sporting codes’ interest to make sure they’re not getting ripped off.”
Dr Livingstone said a ban on in-match ads would make a big difference for the next generation.
“It will stop that exposure at a young age, to young people (watching the matches) and will almost certainly lead to a lower rate of gambling problems among that group in the future.”
Both the AFL and NRL declined to comment at this stage.