Sports betting and advertising

AGRC Discussion Paper No. 4 – November 2014

The growth of sports betting in Australia

  • The growth of sports betting can be partly attributed to the growth of online gambling.
  • Half of all sports betting is now conducted online.
  • Many commercial arrangements now exist between sporting entities (events, clubs, stadiums, etc.) and bookmakers.
  • These arrangements have increased sports betting marketing and contributed to its growth.

Expansion of Internet gambling has driven the recent growth of sports betting, which comprises 53% of the international online gambling market (H2 Gambling Capital, 2013). Australians now have convenient, 24/7 and mobile access to betting websites, meaning they can gamble from nearly any time and place. Sporting events are packaged with Internet gambling, and bettors can readily compare wagering products for an increasing array of Australian and international sporting events (JSCGR, 2011). Australians can bet online on dozens of different sports with the numerous sports betting operators licensed in Australia or with offshore wagering sites illegally providing these services to Australians.

These factors are shifting betting away from land-based outlets, with at least half of sports betting now conducted online (Hing, Vitartas, & Lamont, 2014; JSCGR, 2013). Key advantages of the online mode are convenience, price, comfort, and the greater number of betting options available (Hing, Gainsbury et al., 2014).

A 2008 Australian High Court decision provided further impetus to the expansion of sports betting. It removed restrictions preventing bookmakers licensed in one jurisdiction from advertising in another. This change prompted the entry of corporate bookmakers into the Australian sports betting market to capitalise on Australians' penchant for both gambling and sport.

Many sporting events, teams and stadiums have now entered into commercial marketing arrangements with these corporate bookmakers (Lamont, Hing, & Gainsbury, 2011). This practice is most prominent in the two largest Australian sports, the National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL). These sports attract about half of all sports betting in Australia, with a doubling of turnover expected within five years from $750 million to $1.5 billion on the NRL and from $900 million to $1.8 billion for AFL (Deloitte, 2012). Because these codes receive marketing and product fees based on betting revenues, sporting bodies are also motivated to maintain and promote a competitive, innovative wagering product (Deloitte, 2012).