Sportsbet Ad Pulled over Driving and Gambling Concerns

Australian online gambling company Sportsbet has had one of its advertisements banned by Ad Standards for breaching health and safety regulations and responsible gambling laws.

The Panel ruled that the golf ad violated Section 2.6 and Section 2.8 of the Wagering Code. (Source: bedrick, Pixabay)

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The controversial ad features a male individual watching horse racing on his mobile device while playing golf. A voice-over proclaims, "Nobody does it easier than Tee Time Tim Callaghan. He streams Sky Racing on the Sportsbet app. All while tackling the Southern Hemisphere’s scariest slice. Yep. Whether he’s driving a buggy or trying to dig one out of a bunker, this Sultan of swing doesn't miss a second."

A concerned viewer reported the ad to the Australian advertising industry's self-regulatory body citing that it sends the wrong message about road safety. The complainant argues that the ad encourages dangerous phone use while operating a vehicle.

Sportsbet Refutes Claims

However, Sportsbet denied the claim that the ad violated Section 2.6 of the AANA Code of Ethics, which mandates that advertisements must not showcase content or activities that contravene established health and safety guidelines.

The company argued that their ad did not breach this code. Instead, it portrayed a scene where a group of golfers are engaged in a game of golf while checking the Sportsbet platform to watch Sky Racing at different areas of the course.

"The intent of the advertisement is to be portrayed as humorous and light-hearted and does not actually depict any person driving a golf buggy and watching Sky Racing at the same time or using a mobile phone," the advertiser stated.

More Regulation News

Panel Upholds Complaint

Acknowledging the complainant's concern, the Ad Standards panel agreed that the ad promoted phone use while driving. Although the visual depiction shows the man watching racing on his phone while golfing, the voice-over suggests that he is simultaneously driving a golf buggy. This creates an overall impression that he is using his phone while operating a vehicle.

The panel ruled that the ad was contrary to public safety campaigns and community expectations regarding driver safety, even when not on public roads. As a result, the ad violated Section 2.6 of the Code.

The panel also concluded that the ad's portrayal of excessive gambling behavior violated Section 2.8 of the Wagering Code. Although the ad doesn't show the man placing bets, the panel ruled that it is unlikely that someone would use a wagering app to watch races without also having wagered on the outcome.

Following the panel's decision, Sportsbet has since taken down the controversial campaign from all media platforms, including their social media channels.


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