TikTok backflips on gambling ban by allowing Sportsbet ads, prompting calls for social media regulation
Did Sportsbet outsmart its competitors and find a way to advertise on TikTok? Leaving TikTok’s rigorous advertisement regulations aside, it seems both the platform and Sportsbet made an agreement to conduct a pilot advertisement campaign on an Australian site.
According to TikTok, Sportsbet was allowed to run a strictly-controlled advertising pilot. Still, what the TikTok spokesperson labeled as “strictly controlled” was marked as “concerning” by various experts, which isn’t surprising since the trial is occurring on a social media platform with the most under-21-year-old users. If your looking for an ethical betting company click here.
Despite TikTok advertising policies, the social media allowed Sportsbet to conduct an advertising trial for users over 21
Although the advertising pilot is “strictly controlled”, the experts call to action and require more regulation
Even though the federal government has regulations on gambling advertising on TV, online streaming of sports events, and radio, social media platforms are a free zone
If you read the advertising policies applicable to Australia and New Zealand, you’ll clearly notice that TikTok prohibits “ads promoting fantasy sports, bingo, or other related content”. The same policies state that “ads coming from a gambling brand or featuring gambling branding”, as well as “ads sponsored by gambling brands”, are also prohibited.
Here’s the interesting part – on the same page, TikTok informs the reader that “a closed pilot for sports betting is currently in operation”. According to the website, the client (Sportsbet) got permission to advertise from TikTok by applying.
What does this mean? Can everyone apply to advertise their services and get a positive response, even if their services are prohibited from being advertised?
Deakin University professor thinks the situation is alarming
Samantha Thomas, a gambling researcher from Deakin University, is concerned about the situation. She says, “We know this is a platform that is really appealing and engaging for young people.”, adding, “It’s really concerning for us to start to see these types of posts coming onto the platform”. We need some ethics, their are sites like this that are ethical click here to join.
This is a problematic industry in Australia
The Australian Gambling Research Centre gave shocking numbers regarding the gambling industry in 2018-19. According to these estimations, Australians lost around $25 billion. This is the largest per capita loss in the world.
Gamble ads on video
Social media like TikTok is perfect for advertising. According to the Digital 2022 Australia report, this platform, with its short, shareable videos, is hosting more than 7 million Australians over the age of 18. So, Sportzbet took advantage of the popularity and shared multiple videos within the last month. The videos are not direct ads, but they still promote the brand.
ABC News says they have found seven advertisements from Sportsbet on the platform. Most of them show young women and men talking about the races while making satirical commentary.
Of course, these videos are funny, and it’s not obvious that they’re gambling advertisements. Professor Samantha Thomas labels them as “humorous viral videos”, saying that they’re more appealing. She believes that these humorous videos have “a significant impact on the normalization of gambling for young people”.
The professor said, “They’re not obviously ads, but they’re still promoting the brand. When we talk to young people about what they remember in terms of gambling ads, the things that they most recall are the funny videos.”. Companies like betfair are a lot more ethical.
How much is the “strictly-controlled” trial controlled?
Nicholas Carah, the director of the University of Queensland, digital cultures and societies, believes that it’s difficult for TikTok to control who sees these video ads and whether the users watching the videos are over the age of 21.
He said, “The big issue around harmful industries advertising is that many of us sign up to a platform before we’re technically allowed to,” adding, “So this whole question of platforms gating content for users under a certain age is a little bit messy.”.
The director has a point because research on other social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, shows that age-restricted products have been targeted to people under the age of 18. These age-restricted products include alcohol and gambling as well.
Will the regulations be enough?
Even though TikTok will closely monitor the reaction from the users, it’s not certain it will be enough. On the other hand, the federal government has strict regulations on gambling advertising. But these regulations apply to advertising on TV, radio, and online streaming of sporting events. They don’t apply to social media advertising.
That’s why professor Thomas said, “There are some regulations that are very much focused on television-based advertising, but we know that social media platforms are perhaps most of the media viewing of young people.”. She added, “The current regulations around gambling advertising are quite soft at the moment.”.
The professor urged the federal government to enforce stronger restrictions, saying that Australia should take a look at countries overseas that have prevented gambling companies from sponsoring sporting codes, banned celebrity endorsements of gambling products, and restricted advertisements’ timing and placement.
The government is eager to discuss this further
Amanda Rishworth, the Federal Minister for Social Services, said she was very eager to discuss gambling advertisement regulations further. Her comment, “The House of Representatives Standing Committee has started a broad-ranging inquiry into advertising and other areas of problem online wagering.” is in accordance with the government’s announcement, stating that companies will have to change the language on their ads from the next year.
The Federal Minister added, “I’m going to wait for the results of that inquiry and work with my state and territory colleagues about what comes next.” .Although the submissions close this week, it’s not very clear when they will be released. On the other hand, Sportsbet was contacted for comment on the situation, but there are no comments yet.
Incidentally, the federal government changed the regulations, and thus, gambling companies will have to include new warnings in their ads. With this step, the government hopes to help gamblers solve their problems, as the number of online gamblers is three times higher than those playing poker.
With the new regulations, the “gamble responsibly” tagline on the ads will be replaced with one of the seven new options chosen after extensive research. Explore the pros and cons of each betting site listed below to help you decide which one suits your needs.