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Flutter’s SportsBet among firms facing online gambling ad ban in Australia

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Gaming companies including Paddy Power owner’s Flutter’s SportsBet suffered a setback as an Australian parliamentary inquiry recommended banning all advertising for online gambling in order to decouple betting from sport and reduce financial harm.

“The torrent of advertising is inescapable,” Peta Murphy, chair of a committee that investigated online gambling and its impact, said in the report released Wednesday. “It is manipulating an impressionable and vulnerable audience.”

Murphy, a lawmaker in the ruling Labour party, called for a comprehensive ban on gambling advertising on all media. She said a generation of young Australians increasingly view gambling and sport as inextricably linked. There’s a risk that sport becomes so captured by gambling revenue that betting is seen as its primary purpose, she said. “Enough is enough,” Murphy said.

Australia suffers the word’s biggest losses from gambling per capita, losing some A$25 billion (€15.5 billion) every year. The report and its 31 recommendations lay the ground for a battle between the government and the gambling industry, together with broadcasters that air the ads.

The country’s total spending on online gambling jumped to A$9.6 billion in 2022 from A$5.6 billion in 2019, spurred by pandemic-related restrictions on movement, the report said. The gambling industry spent an estimated A$287.2 million on advertising in Australia in 2021.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government will consider the committee’s recommendations. “The idea you’re watching a footy game and in the middle of the game, on comes an ad for gambling, I find pretty reprehensible,” he said on local radio.

The committee said the government should phase in a comprehensive advertising ban over three years. It also called for online betting companies to pay a “harm reduction levy” to fund treatment and support for those troubled by gambling or suffering from betting addiction. — Bloomberg

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