Australian EPL fans served ads for offshore gambling firms

Australian EPL fans served ads for offshore gambling firms

Tech Journalist
     

    A broadcasting loophole means Australia-based fans of the English Premier League (EPL) are subjected to numerous betting ads for offshore gambling firms that would otherwise be prohibited from display on Australian screens.

    That is the basis of a complaint made to a media watchdog against the broadcaster, Optus Sport, reports The Guardian.

    The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is probing a complaint against Optus by journalist and gambling researcher, Jack Kerr. He is alleging gambling ads featured in every single minute of play during a Premier League soccer game in December 2023, when Aston Villa hosted Manchester City.

    Optus Sport has held the rights to EPL games in Australia since 2016 with the company recently securing an extension to the deal, having paid around $ 600m to retain the lucrative rights through to the end of the 2027-28 season.

    The broadcaster enjoys a subscriber base of over one million customers in Australia for its streaming service.

    Mr Kerr detailed in his complaint, “interactive gambling companies are one of the most frequently seen products on these pitch-side billboards” and the clubs “typically show ads for multiple betting companies throughout a match”.

    It is understood the pitch-side advertising boards are controlled and managed by the Premier League clubs and can be tailored for different markets, in a mix of collective league sponsors and specific club agreements.

    What are the gambling restrictions in Australia?

    In Australia, the Interactive Gambling Act does not allow offshore gambling companies to offer bets to people based in Australia and further prohibits the promotion of their services. Crucially, an exemption is offered if an advert is “an accidental or incidental accompaniment to the publication of other matter”.

    The latter points to the crux of the position adopted by Optus, with its spokesperson stressing the company “complies with the relevant Australian laws in its coverage of all rights and content. 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,” they continued.

    “Optus Sport is prohibited by the rights owners from replacing any pitch-side ads using virtual advertising or otherwise.”

    Gambling companies pour millions into the EPL due to its mammoth global reach, with the league broadcast to an estimated 800 million homes in around 190 countries.

    Last year, Premier League clubs agreed to end primary shirt sponsorship deals with gambling brands as of the end of the 2025/26 campaign.

    At present, eight of the 20 clubs in the competition have betting companies as front-of-shirt sponsors, with the endorsements representing a collective value of around £60m (A$ 116m) per year.

    Image: Premier League/X

    The post Australian EPL fans served ads for offshore gambling firms appeared first on ReadWrite.

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    Graeme Hanna

    Tech Journalist

    Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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