Sportsbet has increased its marketing spend by millions of dollars in an advertising blitz ahead of an expected crackdown by the Australian government.
The business spent an extra $19m on marketing in the first half of 2023 compared with the same period the year before, the financial results of Sportsbet’s Dublin-based parent company, Flutter, show.
Flutter said the “additional marketing spend of £10m” was necessary “to defend our leadership position” in Australia.
The Australian market is fiercely competitive, with a number of new entrants. The industry’s annual turnover is worth around $50bn.
But the chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, said Sportsbet was spending big on ads while it could to generate profits before the expected ban on ads.
Costello, who lobbied the prime minster, Anthony Albanese, and opposition leader, Peter Dutton, to take action earlier this week, repeated his claim that ads were creating a new generation of punters.
“[Sportsbet] are being utterly irresponsible and that rise alone should destroy their social licence to operate,” Costello said.
“This proves a levy on Sportsbet is appropriate and why are we allowing our kids to be targeted by a foreign, Dublin-based company?”
Sportsbet said its marketing spend was “seasonal and dependent on a range of activities”. “This supports racing and sporting industries,” a spokesperson said.
This rise in marketing spending comes as the gambling industry lobbies ministers to water down a parliamentary inquiry’s recommendation for ads to be banned.
In June, the parliamentary inquiry called for a total ad ban to combat the manipulation of an “impressionable and vulnerable audience”. It called for a phased approach to the ban, starting with eradicating online inducements.
At the time, Sportsbet’s chief executive, Barni Evans, criticised the recommendations as disproportionate. He instead called for more measures to improve consumer protections.