This is the first study in Australia, and internationally, to examine the extent of gambling advertising on sport TV and non-sport TV, and the extent to which young people in different age groups are exposed to it.
A key aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice in protecting children and young people from exposure to gambling advertising.
The researchers cross-referenced the timing and nature of gambling ads with official TV audience data. Findings included:
- On average, 374 gambling ads were broadcast per day on Australian free-to-air TV in 2016 – around five times the number of alcohol ads reported in previous research.
- Two-thirds of these gambling ads aired during the day, when large numbers of young people were watching. Among the younger groups, children aged 0–12 years had the most exposure.
- Betting was the main type of gambling advertised on TV. In 2016, AFL broadcasts attracted the most ads, followed by NRL, cricket, horse racing, motor racing and tennis.
- There were, on average, four times more gambling ads during sport TV than during non-sport TV. Children and young people were, therefore, considerably more exposed to gambling advertising when watching sport TV.
The authors conclude that the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice has not achieved its purpose of protecting children and young people from gambling advertising. They also contend that changes made to the code in 2015 caused an increase in advertising at times when children and young people were watching.
In March 2018, gambling advertising during live sport broadcasts between 5 am and 8.30 pm was banned in Australia. The authors question whether this will result, or has resulted, in a reduction in gambling ads during sport TV, or simply a redistribution to before or after the prohibited slots. They note that their data shows a large number of children and young people watch sport beyond 8.30 pm.