Australia’s highly competitive online gambling market means that operators are investing increasingly more into marketing to the chagrin of fans. A recent survey determined that most AFL viewers were quickly becoming fed up with the increased number of ads, with the majority in favor of a complete advertising ban. The League’s refusal to self-regulate also drew the ire of politicians, likely heralding the end of the current status quo.
Fans Have Had Enough
The AFL’s relationship with gambling operators has long been a contentious issue. Sportsbet, the League’s official partner, is now bitterly competing with other high-profile operators like Betr and Tabcorp. Their constant jostling for market share means that these companies are investing more than ever in marketing, with the number of betting ads reaching an all-time high.
Fans have been understandably upset with these developments. The annual AFL Fans Association survey revealed that 47% believed advertising was the most concerning issue. Participants expressed worries about the proliferation of problem gambling, particularly the effects non-stop advertisements could have on impressionable children. Most fans supported some form of restriction to reduce social and family impacts.
The Government Is Preparing to Step In
According to a recent investigation by The Guardian, the AFL has decided to disregard fan concerns and will not tone down the deluge of advertisements. The League tried to defend its stance by noting that its wagering partnerships included robust integrity measures and helped support the game. However, its unwillingness to curtail the rising volume of ads has drawn the unwelcome attention of politicians who have vowed to resort to legislative means.
The South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania governments have advocated for stricter regulations, echoing the overall sentiment in the Parliament. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie stated that public concern was at an all-time high and the government would inevitably have to take measures. He is one of several staunch proponents for harsher restrictions, calling for a total advertisement ban.
The AFL is completely and utterly out of step, and it is beyond time for them to either get on board or get out of the way.
Australia MP Andrew Wilkie
A spike in problem gambling has already forced the Australian government to implement updated taglines in betting ads. The new messages are striking and include much clearer warning language. However, public concern regarding this topic remains high. Although a complete advertisement ban remains unlikely, new restrictions and updated regulations are now a matter of when rather than if.