It’s official. The door is now wide open for gambling companies to advertise in any way they like, without worrying about getting in trouble.
No one is regulating their ads. No one’s keeping an eye on them. They can say what they like, misrepresent their products, lie about the services they offer, and pay lip service to the idea of responsibility… and get away with it.
This is criminal.
Regular readers will be aware that I wrote recently about the TAB’s latest advertising campaign, “It’s Betting Season / Time To Go Shopping“. It’s a campaign based on the premise that gambling for men is like shopping for women, and shows goofy blokes clutching shopping bags full of betting slips.
I then lodged a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Bureau about the campaign, on the basis of misrepresentation and normalisation of gambling, as well as the promotion of unsafe gambling practices.
The ASB rejected my complaint, on the grounds that it was “outside their charter”. Not that the ads were ok but that they weren’t interested in doing anything about them. The ASB suggested I take the matter up with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which I duly did.
This morning, I received notification from the ACCC that they were “unable to help me in my dispute” as they “do not have a role in this area”.
So neither the Advertising Standards Bureau, not the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, can make a judgement on whether or not gambling advertising is lying, or promoting unsafe gambling practices.
This is madness. If not them, then who?
It is high time we had an independent watchdog, set up specifically to monitor and oversee gambling advertising. Because otherwise, we’re going to drown in a flood of unregulated, deceptive and dangerous promotion… and the deluge has already begun.
12/11/2014 – UPDATED TO ADD:
I have now also heard from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), who have told me they can’t help with complaints of this nature.
ACMA suggested I try the Outdoor Media Association (OMA). I don’t have high hopes, as the OMA directs complaints to the ASB which was the first organisation I spoke to! But I’ve asked them anyway.
I’ve also contacted the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), the Communications Council and the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA). Maybe one of them can help.
Personally, I doubt it. But I’ll keep you posted.