online gambling advertising faces an uncertain future in Australia

  • Written by Gianluca Di Censo, PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide

Sports betting is most popular among Australian young people[1] than any other age group, and this trend has only increased over the past 15 years[2].

Young males, in particular, are the group most likely to participate in sports betting and face a higher risk of developing gambling issues.

Environmental factors, such as advertising, can make young people more likely to bet on sports. So regulation is essential if we want to prevent young people from gambling-related harm.

Read more: Premier League’s front-of-shirt gambling ad ban is a flawed approach. Australia should learn from it[3]

Advertising, promotions and marketing techniques

Advertising serves two different purposes[4]. There is the advertising that companies use to set their products apart from their competitors (known as competitive advertising). There is also the advertising companies use to make people more interested in a product (known as primary demand advertising).

Sports betting companies use competitive advertising by promoting their products’ unique features, such as chat features and live match updates, or by offering promotions, such as bonus bets and deposit matches. This type of advertising is most likely to appeal to people who are already involved in sports betting. They are looking for more affordable ways to bet, ways to maximise their winnings, and better features.

Promotions are an effective way to make people bet more[5]. They may be more likely[6] to influence people who gamble to risky levels. Because of this, Australia has taken steps to ban some of these promotions[7], including sign-up and refer-a-friend offers.

Sports betting companies use a variety of marketing strategies to generate interest in sports betting. For example, they often advertise during live sports broadcasts to generate interest in sports gambling.

This serves two purposes: it presents sports betting as a normal part[8] of being a sports fan and aligns sports betting with the positive values[9] people associate with sports, such as fairness, success and competence.

Young males, in particular, are the group most likely to participate in sports betting.

The impact of celebrities and influencers

Sports betting companies often feature celebrities and athletes[10] in their advertising. This can enhance the appeal of betting, as people transfer their favourable opinions of celebrities and athletes to sports betting.

However, companies can use social media influencers to do this much more effectively. This is because influencers engage more[11] with their followers and appear more relatable[12] than more well-known celebrities.

Companies can use influencers in various ways to promote sports betting. One approach is to pay influencers to appear in advertising campaigns, known as influencer endorsements[13].

Another approach is sponsored content[14], where a company pays an influencer to promote its brand or product in its own content. For example, an influencer might create a video about sports betting and mention they bet with a specific betting company.

Content advertising[15] has become increasingly popular in the digital age as people consume more content on a daily basis.

Companies use this strategy by creating content that appeals to their target audience without directly advertising their products. A sports betting company might create a website that shares sports-related news, which would appeal to their target audience of sports fans. This advertising strategy cultivates brand awareness and fosters customer loyalty.

In essence, sports betting advertising goes beyond what people see during commercial breaks. Like all advertising, it appears wherever content is generated and wherever a brand’s target audience is expected to engage with it.

The complexities of a potential ban

Last year’s parliamentary inquiry[16] into online gambling outlines recommendations for a gradual ban of online gambling advertising by 2026. Whether these recommendations are implemented remains to be seen, but it is important to recognise that advertising is now more complex and global than ever before.

How will this recommended ban account for influencer advertising, content advertising, or subtle references to odds on websites that provide scores and live updates of sports events?

How gambling advertising is defined will likely become a crucial issue. In 2018, Italy banned[17] all direct advertising for gambling. To circumvent this ban[18], betting companies established websites solely focused on sharing sports-related news content using the same name as their betting brand. This allowed them to openly advertise their betting brand during live sporting events.

Read more: Australia has a strong hand to tackle gambling harm. Will it go all in or fold?[19]

A holistic approach

A complete ban on gambling advertising may soon be implemented in Australia, but it is crucial to consider what exactly defines gambling advertising.

It’s important to involve marketers in the process of implementing an advertising ban because they have the most up-to-date knowledge of current advertising trends; policymakers and researchers might not know about them until years later.

This is a critical step towards preventing sports betting companies from potentially exploiting regulatory loopholes.

A future advertising ban must consider advances in social media marketing strategies, all of which are especially significant for young people.


  1. ^ Australian young people (aifs.gov.au)
  2. ^ past 15 years (doi.org)
  3. ^ Premier League’s front-of-shirt gambling ad ban is a flawed approach. Australia should learn from it (theconversation.com)
  4. ^ two different purposes (doi.org)
  5. ^ bet more (doi.org)
  6. ^ more likely (doi.org)
  7. ^ ban some of these promotions (www.dss.gov.au)
  8. ^ normal part (doi.org)
  9. ^ positive values (doi.org)
  10. ^ celebrities and athletes (doi.org)
  11. ^ engage more (doi.org)
  12. ^ appear more relatable (doi.org)
  13. ^ influencer endorsements (www.indeed.com)
  14. ^ sponsored content (www.goodbadmarketing.com)
  15. ^ Content advertising (mailchimp.com)
  16. ^ parliamentary inquiry (www.aph.gov.au)
  17. ^ banned (www.lexology.com)
  18. ^ circumvent this ban (pagellapolitica.it)
  19. ^ Australia has a strong hand to tackle gambling harm. Will it go all in or fold? (theconversation.com)

Authors: Gianluca Di Censo, PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide

Read more https://theconversation.com/celebrities-influencers-loopholes-online-gambling-advertising-faces-an-uncertain-future-in-australia-226315