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ACMA flags inconsistencies in gambling ad rules compliance

| By Robert Fletcher
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has reminded all licensed online operators in the country to comply with gambling advertising rules after highlighting a number of inconsistencies in operators’ interpretation of the controls.

Introduced in 2018, the regulations state that gambling advertising cannot be shown during live sport on television, radio and online between the hours of 5:00am and 8:30am, with ads also restricted outside this period.

The ACMA has continued to monitor the effectiveness of the rules, saying that in the second year of the measures being in place, it conducted three investigations into operators.

Though the ACMA did not identify any major concerns, it did uncover a number of inconsistencies in how providers interpreted the rules.

These included the use of an exemption set out under the Broadcasting Service Act 1992, which allows for an identical online simulcast of a live sporting event to be exempt from the ad rules.

“The ACMA found this exemption is being widely used, and sometimes combined with an exemption for low audience share subscription television channels from the broadcasting codes of practice restrictions,” the ACMA said.

“As the size of online audiences for live sporting events continues to grow in Australia, it may be relevant to also consider the potential online audience share for live sporting events broadcast on TV, so that exemptions continue to apply as intended, where there are genuinely small audiences.”

The ACMA also flagged issues with record-keeping requirements, in that while operators are making and keeping records of gambling ads shown during live sporting events, the types of records kept by individual providers vary.

As such, the ACMA urged operators to consider whether their records comply with the advertising, particularly for digitally inserted advertising.

“Although our formal monitoring program has now ended, the environment for broadcasting and streaming live sporting events is evolving,” the ACMA said.

“We’ll keep watching developments in this sector and how these interact with gambling advertising restrictions.”

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