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SBS introduces gambling advert opt-out service for customers

| By Robert Fletcher
Australian hybrid-funded national broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has introduced a new feature allowing customers to opt out of receiving gambling advertising.
SBS gambling advert

Announced today (31 October) at its 2024 Upfronts, SBS says a beta service will launch in Q1 of 2024. The gambling ad blocking feature will be available to users of its SBS On Demand offering.

Additional details of the service will be announced in the New Year. However, SBS has said that it will allow users to opt out of gambling, alcohol and quick-service restaurant ads.

SBS managing director James Taylor says the initiative has already gained the support of Australian gambling giant Tabcorp.

“SBS already takes significant steps to ensure we are meeting the responsible advertising expectations audiences have of us,” Taylor said. “We have age restrictions on SBS On Demand and we remove certain ad categories from particular programming, especially shows that deal with difficult or sensitive topics, such as Addicted Australia.

“For certain categories, SBS will utilise the benefits that digital provides and put greater control into the audience’s hands. Audiences have always had complete control over what they watch on SBS On Demand. 

“Now they will benefit further by having greater control over the ads they see as well. The advertiser benefits by not paying to reach people who have no interest in their product. This is responsible advertising at its best.”

Expanding responsible gambling options in Australia 

The opt-out feature is the latest responsible gambling offering available to consumers in Australia.

Last week, it was announced that the country’s BetStop national self-exclusion scheme has drawn over 100,000 registrations. The initiative only launched in August this year.

Players can self-exclude from gambling for a minimum of three months and for as long as their lifetime. Early data shows the most common registration period is for a lifetime, with most sign-ups taking less than five minutes.

BetStop forms part of the National Consumer Protection Framework. This also includes new mandatory pre-verification requirements. Introduced by Australia’s government, operators must now verify a customer’s identity when they register for an account and before they can start betting. 

Australia is also working to ban the use of credit cards, other credit-related products and digital currencies for online wagering. In September, the government tabled legislation to push ahead with this proposal

Meanwhile, the government has introduced evidence-based taglines to replace “Gamble Responsibly” and implemented nationally consistent training for staff working in the sector.

TV and radio gambling adverts surpass one million in 2022-23

Earlier this month, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released data on gambling advert prevalence in 2022-23. Over a million gambling adverts featured on Australian free-to-air television and metro radio in the year to 30 April 2023.

Of all adverts that appeared on free-to-air television and metro radio, 50% – or 502,800 – were from licensed online gambling operators.

Online gambling adverts made up 51% of all metro free-to-air TV ads (256,000). Some 20% of metro TV adverts came from lotteries (99,500) and 17% lottos (84,000). The other adverts focused on services such as on-premises gambling and horse, harness and greyhound racing.

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