New research released today to coincide with Shifting the goal posts on sports betting, a Gambling Harm Awareness Week (7–13 October) panel event, has found gambling ads are played four times more often during sports programming than during non-sport TV.
The research found there were more than 136,000 gambling ads on Australian free-to-air TV in 2016. The majority were shown between 6 am and 8.30 pm, when child audiences were largest. Kids aged 0–11 years were the most exposed to gambling ads when watching TV during the daytime, peaking between 6 pm and 10 pm, and particularly when watching televised elite sport.
In the world-first study, which analysed official free-to-air TV audience data for viewers aged 0–24 years, children were the highest consumers of gambling ads at more than 1.95 billion estimated exposures. Between them, kids aged 0–11 saw gambling ads more than 1.49 billion times and those aged 12–17 almost 450 million. Young adults (18–24 years) were exposed to gambling ads on TV around 594 million times during the year.
Led by Monash University’s Professor Kerry O’Brien, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation-funded research also found there were around five times more gambling ads than there were alcohol ads on TV, with an average of 374 gambling ads broadcast each day.
“The culture surrounding elite sport in Australia has changed as prolific advertising has promoted sport to kids as a series of betting opportunities,” Foundation CEO Shane Lucas said.
“Consequently, we are concerned that kids are becoming focused on the odds, and risk missing out on the pure enjoyment of ‘the game’, as well as the lessons sport can teach about teamwork, strategy and fair play.
“And industry ads only ever equate betting with winning, leading kids to think that gambling on sport is normal and without risk.”
Mr Lucas added that the ban on gambling advertising during live sports between 5 am and 8.30 pm introduced in 2017 seemed to have had little effect on kids’ exposure to betting ads.
“The research shows that large numbers of children view sport on television well after 8.30 pm, which is unsurprising given many AFL, NRL and other games finish after 10 pm.
“The Foundation’s view, therefore, is that the current restrictions on gambling advertising on television do not go far enough,” he said.
Professor O’Brien’s research highlighted that changes to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice in late 2015 led to a 55 per cent overall increase in the number of gambling ads on free-to-air TV. However, the increase was greater in sport programming (71 per cent) compared to non-sport programming (51 per cent).
“Changes to the advertising regulations implemented three years ago have weakened protections and have resulted in greater exposure of children to gambling advertising when watching sport and non-sport TV,” Professor O’Brien said.
The research report, Extent of, and Children and Young People’s Exposure to, Gambling Advertising in Sport and Non-Sport TV, is available to download from here.
Media are invited to Shifting the goal posts on sports betting, a candid conversation about kids, sport and betting. A co-hosted Foundation–Vicsport event, participants include AFLW superstar Daisy Pearce, Geelong FC President Colin Carter AM and Western Bulldogs FC CEO Ameet Bains.
Note to editors: Shane Lucas and Professor Kerry O’Brien are available for interview.