Report: Australia’s NRL in talks with sports betting firms to phase out jersey sponsorships

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According to reports coming from Australia, the country’s Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is currently in talks to downsize the influence of betting promotions across TV, online and public spaces.

Three unnamed sources have told the Sydney Morning Herald that sports betting firms are considering the option of ceasing all advertising on football jerseys, despite half of the clubs in the National Rugby League (NRL) having such a deal in place. 

If it comes to fruition, the NRL will follow in the steps of the Australian Football League (AFL) which has already turned the dial down on jersey sports betting sponsorships – a move similar to the UK’s Premier League and its decision to phase out betting sponsorships by the end of 2025.

Furthermore, Minister Rowland is reportedly also looking into a nation-wide strategy to scale back gambling advertisements on the radio during school pick-up hours, as well as on billboards in public spaces and especially around educational institutions – something that has already been implemented in the state of Victoria.

Talks to ban all sorts of gambling advertising have been already passed around in Australia’s parliament, with a government committee in June issuing a recommendation that all betting promotions should be phased out completely within a three-year period. 

Labor MP Peta Murphy, Chair of the committee, further commented: “While any reforms are welcome, what the evidence clearly shows is that nothing short of a complete ban on advertising is needed to tackle the scale of this problem.”

However, the sources told the Sydney Morning Herald that the government is instead in favour of milder restrictions where betting advertising would be limited in its volume and frequency, i.e. between one and three ads/h per TV channel, and that the financial outcome for sports and businesses is currently being evaluated. 

The media and advertising sectors have been active proponents against a potential blanket ban on gambling advertising. Gai Le Roy, CEO of Australia’s online advertising trade association IAB, said this in June: 

“We recognise there is community concern in relation to ‘saturation’ gambling advertising which needs to be addressed and we are willing to work constructively with the Government to make that happen. 

“However, we are concerned that the committee’s recommendation to impose an outright ban on all advertising is not a proportionate response.”.

The political question of gambling advertisement in Australia is very nuanced at the moment, with many suggesting that Rowland is taking slow or insufficient actions to address the issue in favour of appealing to the gambling sector. 

Rowland herself has been met with calls for her resignation in light of the donations made by online gambling company Sportsbet to her personal re-election fund during her federal election campaign last year.

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