January 2, 2023 3 min read


ACMA Reports a Doubling of Gambling Ads Complaints in 2022

The regulator has warned that current practice guidelines have failed to meet the expectations of the public as complaints have skyrocketed last year

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that the number of complaints regarding gambling ads almost doubled in 2022, The Guardian revealed recently. The media regulator, which is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority, has also added that the number of complaints and inquiries regarding gambling advertisements has been on a steady growth trend in the last four years. 

ACMA Asking for More Restrictions 

ACMA has asked for enhanced restrictions on advertisements on Google and social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. According to the authority, the current restrictions do not comply with the public’s expectations. ACMA, which has an Authority that is responsible for making decisions and an executive crew that supervises their work, is now looking for more power to ensure the protection of children and vulnerable members of the community.

ACMA’s submission spoke about a total of 47 complaints or inquiries regarding gambling ads in 2018-2019, with the number jumping to 120 in 2020-2021 prior to reaching almost double to 208 in 2021-2022. An additional number of 39 complaints were received in July, August, and September 2022. Part of them was sent to the broadcaster in question for a resolution, while others fell outside ACMA’s control. The complaints targeted concerns regarding “excessive” gambling ads which were broadcast at “inappropriate times” with special emphasis on family viewing times and children watching. A number of these complaints asked for a total ban on gambling advertising.

The Community Wants Action 

In the spring of 2018, Australia’s government restricted televised sports gambling ads between 5 am and 8.30 pm. The government also banned promotions from five minutes prior to the beginning of a game to five minutes after a game has started.

While ACMA explained the restrictions were working according to the plan for broadcast media, the number of children who started to watch sports on live streaming platforms that were not subject to the same type of regulations was on the rise. ACMA’s submission to the public inquiry explained that the assessments regarding the effectiveness of rules regarding gambling ads should also consider the “changed viewing behaviors of children”.

According to Deakin University gambling expert professor Samantha Thomas, the growing number of complaints is proof that the public is looking for action. Accordingly, ACMA has asked the government to consider putting an end to the loophole that limits its capacity to regulate gambling ads on platforms like Twitch, Google, YouTube, and TikTok. For the time being, ACMA is only allowed to ban the promotion of unlicensed gambling services on websites where most of the audience is physically located in Australia.

At the end of November and in mid-December 2022, ACMA asked several internet service providers in the country to block access to a number of illegal gambling websites. 

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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