On 6 May 2017 the Australian Government announced the Broadcast and Content Reform Package which, among other things, affects the current broadcasting regime that covers gambling advertising and promotions during live sports broadcasts.

Under the proposed reforms, gambling advertisements will not be able to be shown for five minutes before a live sports event commences, during the event and for five minutes after the event has concluded. This prohibition will apply between 5.00am and 8.30pm, and applies across commercial television, commercial radio, subscription television, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and online platforms.

Between 8:30pm and before 5:00am, the current gambling advertising rules will continue to apply. Under these rules, gambling advertisements are permitted in scheduled breaks in play (for example, half time) or in unscheduled breaks (for example, where play is delayed due to weather), but are prohibited during play (which includes ad hoc, unscheduled breaks such injury delays or after a goal or try is scored, a wicket falls etc.).

The current ban on promotion of live odds during play, any breaks (whether scheduled or unscheduled) and by commentators during 30-minute windows either side of the start and end of play will continue, as will the exemptions for racing-related advertisements and the advertising of lotteries.

This reform has been introduced to reduce the exposure of gambling to children, but has been limited so as not to deprive free-to-air broadcasters of an important revenue stream.

The Australian Government has proposed a period of consultation with industry stakeholders on how the changes can best be implemented. However, the Government’s express expectation is that the media and broadcasting industry will make the required changes voluntarily through a process of amending broadcasting codes and standards in concert with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), so that the changes can commence in March 2018. Online platforms have been carved out of this timeline and changes will be implemented as soon as practicable.

Further detail of the proposed consultation process and specific detail of the changes are yet to be developed and shared by the Australian Government.