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Bookmakers support ban on live betting odds

Australia’s biggest corporate bookmaker, Sportingbet, is reportedly backing calls for a complete ban on the promotion of live betting odds during sports broadcasts.

Community outrage against betting companies has risen following an ABC TV program highlighting the issue of betting odds and gambling being promoted during sports broadcasts, many of which are watched by children. A poll running on The Age, currently has 88% of people voting for a ban on all gambling advertising.

According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), the chief executive of Sportingbet, Michael Sullivan has said that live odds promotion has gone too far and is too integrated into sports programs. Tabcorp Holdings (ASX: TAH) chief David Attenborough is reported to support restrictions on advertising, where self-regulation wasn’t effective, as long as it was done on a national and not a state basis, and was consistent.

Free TV Australia, the body that represents free-to-air TV stations, has proposed to completely ban the promotion of betting odds by commentators during live broadcasts. The proposal has been mocked by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale as doing nothing to stop ‘pseudo commentators” like Tom Waterhouse. Free TV has also proposed an amendment to stop commentators and their guests from promoting odds during a game and for 30 minutes either side of play.

Tabcorp’s Mr Attenborough said any effect on Tabcorp of such a ban would be limited because the company had a “strong brand and is well trusted in the marketplace.” Tatts Group (ASX: TTS) chief executive Robbie Cooke has told the AFR that wagering companies would likely maintain their levels of advertising expenditure, but change the content, if regulation was imposed.

South Australia’s state government has moved to ban all gambling ads that promote live odds on TV during sports, as part of a move to stop young men being conditioned that gambling was a natural part of sport. But whether the state will be able to implement its ban remains to be seen.

Foolish takeaway

Many people are now calling for a complete ban of sports betting ads on TV. With sports betting estimated to represent about 15-20% of problem gamblers in Australia, clearly some action needs to be taken.

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