TikTok shows Sportsbet adverts in Australia-only trial

Sportsbet will be able to advertise to its Australian customers as part of a new agreement with TikTok, according to ABC News.

The outlet reported that the social media platform is planning a ‘strictly controlled advertising pilot’ with Flutter Entertainment brand Sportsbet, which will only be seen by Australian consumers in a trial-run.

TikTok stated that Sportsbet’s advertising will only be seen by users over the age of 21, but the move contradicts the platform’s previous statements and advertising standards regarding betting promotion.

“A closed pilot for sports betting is currently in operation for one managed client who has obtained permission from TikTok via an application process,” the firm’s advertising policy read in ABC News.

Additionally, the company outlined that users will have access to an opt-out feature that will block any ads from Sportsbet, and that the number of times the ads can be shown will also be capped.  

However, TikTok has stated in the past that advertising promoting fantasy sports, bingo and gambling-related content or featuring gambling branding or sponsored by a gambling firm are prohibited. 

There is nothing illegal about the plan under Australian law, as the federal government does not have regulation in place for social media advertising, only marketing on TV, radio and online streaming.

However, TikTok’s decision does come at a time when gambling and gambling marketing/advertising are increasingly falling under the public spotlight in Australia. 

Last week, Entain revealed to The Sydney Morning Herald that it plans to rollback the sports sponsorship activities of its Ladbrokes and Neds brands in Australia.

Sports organisations themselves have already taken some measures to limit the extent of gambling industry visibility in their fixtures. 

For example, the New South Wales (NSW) government’s ‘Reclaim the Game’ initiative has gained some traction, with two teams from the NRL – one of the most watched tournaments in the country – signing up towards the start of this year.

It is also unsurprising that a betting firm would seek to capitalise on the popularity of TikTok, as the potential of influencer marketing catches more attention in industry circles.

However, the popularity of social media platforms such as TikTok with young consumers has raised some concerns around social responsibility.

Speaking to ABC News, Deakin University Professor of Public Health Samantha Thomas said: “It’s really concerning for us to start to see these types of posts coming onto the platform.

“There are some regulations that are very much focused on television-based advertising, but we know that social media platforms are perhaps most of the media viewing of young people.”

Prof Thomas added that the Australian federal government needs to toughen up its gambling advertising regulations, noting that the law is focused heavily on television commercials but less so social media.

As a parliamentary inquiry is currently underway into the societal impacts of the industry, further legislative developments in this area could be on the horizon.

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