Another step may be taken in the effort to protect children from sports betting, although there is some debate as to whether it is one step further than necessary. Tom Waterhouse recently came under fire for the way he was spruiking live betting odds during sports broadcasts but now the question is being raised about whether football jumpers that display betting company logos should be banned or not, the argument being that children look up to these players and gambling shouldn’t be part of that image.
The joint select committee on gambling reform recommends a review of merchandise that features the gambling logos from Sports Minister Kate Lundy, as well as a review of betting promotion overall at sports venues. The effect of gambling advertising on children is also to be investigated by the Australian Gambling Research Centre.
One issue is that the corporate bookmakers who put a lot of money into Australia’s gambling market would suffer. The issue is currently under review but if a ban on gambling advertising during primetime did come to pass, it might extend far beyond Julia Gillard’s intervention to cut live betting odds from sports broadcasts. This new TV code of practice would permit the broadcasting of gambling promotions before and after games, as well as at half and quarter time. But whether any of these changes would actually protect children is questionable.
Evidence has shown that children are already familiar with different betting companies and Tom Waterhouse has also been known to sign autographs for children at NRL matches. The fact that he is recognised as a celebrity by children is of some concern and it was the controversy surrounding his appearances on live football broadcasts that led to Gillard banning live updates of betting odds, as well as removing odds spruikers from the commentary team.
The committee has said that it shares the same concern as the community regarding the influence sports betting promotions and advertisement can have on younger viewers and that since NRL and AFL market themselves as family sports and are regarded as such, they should not be exposing children to the world of sports betting, especially not to the extent that they have so far.
A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that he is satisfied that the networks have already achieved the right balance with the recent changes and that parents should stop worrying as their children can now enjoy sports events without being subjected to gambling advertising during the games.