Bookmakers defend bulk TV advertising

Gambling giants Sportsbet and Ladbrokes have defended their huge advertising presence, despite admitting targeting minors with ads is out of line.

Writing to a parliamentary inquiry examining whether laws do enough to protect children from exposure to gambling ads, the bookmakers each pointed to their efforts promoting responsible gambling tools as evidence they understood their responsibility to protect young people.

Sportsbet acknowledged "significant community interest" in its advertising and said it was "committed to ensuring our approach to advertising is sustainable and in line with community expectations".

"We therefore recognise the need to continue to develop proactive, practical solutions that will reduce exposure of minors and those suffering or at risk of harm," the company's submission reads.

But Sportsbet, which had $US1.72 billion revenue in 2021 as it claimed half the Australian sports betting market, said the income was being passed down the line to help sports and racing around the country operate.

"Consumer protection, particularly of underage consumers or the vulnerable, should always be a driving force for consideration of sustainable advertising," it said.

"However, these important protections must be balanced against the economic and commercial legitimacy of advertising as a legally regulated product ... an imbalanced regulatory framework could create significant upstream and downstream economic impact for our media partners and stakeholder bodies, which in turn adversely impacts communities and the overall economic health of sport and racing."

The gambling giant pointed to statistics showing just 0.45 per cent of complaints received by an advertising association in 2020 related to wagering.

They added another survey of more than 2000 Australians saw only one per cent of people spontaneously raise concerns about gambling issues.

Entain, which owns Ladbrokes and Neds, said it supported laws banning gambling ads on television during child-friendly hours and showing odds in live sport broadcasts.

The company recently announced it wouldn't be the jersey sponsor for any Australian professional sporting team, a decision that "respects community sentiment around this issue".

The Australian Medical Association noted specific harms online gambling presents to children and young people, adding 16 per cent of Australians aged 16 or 17 had participated in underage gambling.

" Young people are particularly susceptible to interactive gambling and the integration of sports-betting advertising in television broadcasts and the prominent display of internet signs on playing grounds have accelerated the interest and the growth of gambling problems among younger age cohorts," the organisation wrote.

"The AMA does not support any commercial relationship between the gambling industry and sporting events ... links between the gambling industry and sport sponsorship do not align with public health principles."

Suicide Prevention Australia called for gambling advertising to be banned nationally.

"Advertising is pervasive and targeted towards those most at risk of experiencing the harms of gambling and often those most at risk of suicide," it said.

The inquiry will hold its first public hearing next week.