The federal government is poised to introduce new laws to ban gambling advertising during live sporting events as early as next week — but the imminent move has prompted angry opposition from sporting bodies, which say the move will dramatically reduce funds for grassroots sport.
The Australian understands that Communications Minister Mitch Fifeld will go to cabinet on Tuesday with the proposal that would affect all betting advertising from “siren to siren”, or from the start to the finish of games.
Senator Fifeld has held high-level meetings in the past week with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and NRL chief operating officer Nick Weeks. It is understood he has also asked sporting codes how a siren-to-siren betting advertising ban would affect them, in preparation for the measures to be implemented.
It is understood the move has been most heavily pushed by Scott Morrison. The measures are expected to be approved by cabinet.
But a senior source at a major sporting body claimed yesterday that the move was shortsighted.
“This will drive punters to overseas websites and it will result in no reduction in gambling, but a reduction in taxation to state and federal governments,’’ the source said. “It also has the potential to rob sports of product fees.” Product fees are a commission that sporting codes make on each bet waged on their sport with Australian betting agencies.
Malcolm Speed, the executive director of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, which represents all of Australia’s major codes, has also protested about the prospect of more restrictions. “We don’t support a ban on sports betting advertising, on the basis that it is likely to impact on media rights deals or the value of media rights, which is the sports’ greatest asset,” Mr Speed told The Australian.
“We operate in a highly regulated system, where there are limits on placement of sports betting advertising.
“The sports have co-operated with broadcasters and the government to ban live odds during matches. So any restriction or prohibition will inevitably result in lowering investment in community and participation programs, and grassroots development.”
As part of the deal, the federal government is expected to engage in a trade-off with free-to-air TV networks, which is likely to see them use the deal as leverage to have their licensing fees reduced. It is not yet clear whether a similar deal will be struck to compensate subscription television.
Senator Nick Xenophon, who has been the driving force behind the bans, said he supported the moves on betting ads.
“Obviously, I support tightening up gambling advertising … I’m not going to stand in the way of restrictions, but if you want it to be sustainable in the long term, you bring the broadcasting industry with you,” he said, adding “it should also come with a reduction in licensing fees”. He said he would also support subscription networks getting an equivalent discount.
A spokesman for Senator Fifeld would not comment on “speculation about (the government’s) deliberations”.
Revenue from betting agencies has provided a significant increase in revenues for sports.
Only last year, the NRL made Sportsbet its “official wagering partner”, as part of a $60 million, five-year deal. It is understood that the AFL has a $10m-a-year deal with CrownBet.
Source: The Australian