Ladbrokes and Sportsbet defend Australian advertising presence amid inquiry

Ladbrokes and Sportsbet have defended their heavy advertising presence in Australia amid an inquiry examining whether laws do enough to protect children from exposure to gambling ads.

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Writing to the parliamentary inquiry, the bookmakers made note of their efforts promoting responsible gambling tools, in a bid to explain their understanding of their responsibility to protect young people.

Sportsbet noted there is “significant community interest” in its advertising, adding it is “committed to ensuring our approach to advertising is sustainable and in line with community expectations.”

The operator continued: “We therefore recognise the need to continue to develop proactive, practical solutions that will reduce exposure of minors and those suffering or at risk of harm.”

Sportsbet referenced statistics that showed just 0.45% of complaints received by an advertising association in 2020 were related to wagering, adding another survey whereby just 1% of over 2,000 Australians reported they spontaneously raise concerns about gambling issues.

“Consumer protection, particularly of underage consumers or the vulnerable, should always be a driving force for consideration of sustainable advertising,” said the operator.

“However, these important protections must be balanced against the economic and commercial legitimacy of advertising as a legally regulated product… an imbalanced regulatory framework could create significant upstream and downstream economic impact for our media partners and stakeholder bodies, which in turn adversely impacts communities and the overall economic health of sport and racing.”

Ladbrokes owner Entain meanwhile noted that it supports laws banning gambling advertisements on TV during child-friendly hours, as well as showing odds in live sport broadcasts. The group recently announced it wouldn’t sponsor the jersey for any Australian professional sporting team.

The Australian Medical Association wrote: “Young people are particularly susceptible to interactive gambling and the integration of sports-betting advertising in television broadcasts and the prominent display of internet signs on playing grounds have accelerated the interest and the growth of gambling problems among younger age cohorts.

“The AMA does not support any commercial relationship between the gambling industry and sporting events… links between the gambling industry and sport sponsorship do not align with public health principles.”

The inquiry is set to hold its first public hearing next week.

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