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TikTok reverses gambling ban decision through Sportsbet trial

TikTok is currently allowing Sportsbet to advertise to its users in Australia, despite having previously banned betting adverts on its platform.

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A spokesperson for TikTok has, however, noted that the group is currently running a strictly controlled advertising pilot in Australia with Sportsbet.

The company’s advertising policy in the country says that “ads promoting fantasy sports, bingo or other gambling-related content”, “ads coming from a gambling brand or featuring gambling branding,” and “ads sponsored by gambling brands” are prohibited.

But this is followed by the comment: “A closed pilot for sports betting is currently in operation for one managed client who has obtained permission from TikTok via an application process.”

Under the limited trial, the ads are shown only to users over the age of 21, with the frequency of ads capped, while an opt-out feature is being rolled out.

TikTok noted that the ads would be monitored in order to ensure users had a safe experience, with responsible gambling messaging also included. 

The move has come under fire from Deakin University Gambling Researcher Samantha Thomas, who said: “We know this is a platform that is really appealing and engaging for young people.

“It’s really concerning for us to start to see these types of posts coming onto the platform.”

According to the Digital 2022 Australia report, the short-form video hosting service has an advertising reach of over seven million Australians over the age of 18.

The Australian Gambling Research Centre meanwhile estimates that Australians lost around AU$25bn (US$16.18bn) on legal gambling in 2018-2019, the largest per capita loss in the world.

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