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Regulatory Loophole Leads to Flurry of Gambling Ads in EPL Games

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the gaming watchdog, has announced it is investigating a complaint that viewers of English Premier League (EPL) games in the region are being subjected to a flurry of gambling advertisements from offshore online gaming operators.

The complaint was brought by gambling researcher Jack Kerr against media platform Optus Sport, with Kerr citing the number of gambling ads in the EPL match was ‘pervasive’. Kerr used an example of the match between Aston Villa and Manchester City aired last December where gambling ads were shown throughout the entire game.

In gambling legislation in Australia, there is a provision for this scenario with a guideline that during a match any gambling ads are “an accidental or incidental accompaniment to the publication of other matter”.

The complainant is arguing to ACMA that the level of gambling advertising by live casinos and gambling companies is not incidental but is a targeted and concerted effort by the operators to appeal to gamblers in Australia during EPL matches.

8XBet Not Licensed in Australia

One of the gaming operators highlighted in the complaint to ACMA is 8XBet, which was investigated in 2022 and found to have breached the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 and was found to be offering a gaming service to Australians without being licensed in the region. 8XBet has recently signed an agreement with EPL champions Manchester City to be its official wagering partner in Asia.

Although 8XBet is not on the ACMA blacklist and no longer accepts Australian customers, it should still be considered a ‘prohibited interactive gambling service’ or an illegal service under the Interactive Gambling Act, as it is an online gambling service that does not have an Australian license.

Jack KerrGambling Researcher and Complainant

Optus Sports Points Out Broadcast is Legal

Optus Sports, who paid $600 million for the rights to broadcast EPL matches was keen to point out it had broken no laws in showing the games and stated it had no control over the advertisements that are shown in the source feed.

Australian gambling advertising laws contain exemptions for pitch-side advertising. It is standard in sports rights agreements to be required to transmit the original feeds in full, without editing, and Optus Sport’s arrangements are no different, Optus Sport is prohibited by the rights owners from replacing any pitch-side ads using virtual advertising or otherwise.

SpokespersonOptus Sport

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