Australia’s largest wagering entity, Sportsbet, have been found in breach of industry standards with a television advertisement that aired during coverage of an Australian rules football match.
The advertisement in question follows a man who is slumped on his sofa at home, scrolling through his mobile device, most notably dressed in lack-lustre clothing. The crux of the commercial comes when he is portrayed to win his multibet and a voiceover states “feels like you’ve finally made it” before the man is teleported to an awards ceremony, now wearing a tuxedo as he wins the “most outstanding same game multi” fictional award to rapturous applause.
The case would begin when a viewer registered a complaint with advertising self-regulatory watchdog, Ad Standards, which stated Sportsbet relied on:
The false and dangerous narrative that you’re just ‘one bet away’ from ‘winning big’ and thus ‘winning’ the literal applause of your friends and family
The advertisement was met with several other complaints expressing disgust and accusations of insensitivity towards problem gambling, which is a growing issue that is plaguing the Oceanic nation to an unprecedented extent.
The Ad Standard community panel reviewed the advertisement in light of the complaints, using a comparative approach with inclusion of the advertising industry’s wagering code of conduct. Significantly they did not find grounds in the sense that Sportsbet did not imply some kind of guarantee of winning, however it was alternatively found that they generated the impression that gambling “could result in enhanced attractiveness and an improvement in self-image”.
The panel explained their reasoning in a series of statements:
While the context of the advertisement is an imagined scenario, the panel considered that it shows that the man’s self-image has improved after winning and he feels more attractive
Sportsbet have denied these accusations, along with rebuking any allegations levelled at them from the Ads Standards in a statement that vehemently denied any contravention, breach or even failure to adhere to the industry’s wagering code either in practice or in spirit.
Sportsbet’s statement explained that the adulation the gambler receives in the advertisement is neither excessive or succeeds in increasing his sexual attractiveness, labelling these claims baseless.
These defences would be looked on unfavourably, as were similar claims between the two parties as far back as 2019. Issues such as these have not yielded serious regulatory repercussions as of yet. However, several parliamentary committee hearings, inquiries and investigations are currently being conducted with several recommendations to tighten the already stringent regulations expected regarding the volume, content and overall nature of the way gambling is and can be marketed.
This comes in the midst of a nation wide crackdown on the $25 billion industry with issues such as problem gambling and money laundering issues that must be addressed, deep at the heart of the matter.
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