Sports fans around the country have voiced their outrage at the proliferation of gambling advertising in our sports broadcast. I have been one of the MPs who have been pushing for reform. I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement to introduce new rules that restrict sports bet advertising. It is a big step in the right direction, which sends a clear message to the broadcasters, the sporting codes and corporate bookmakers. From the beginning of the game to the end, promoting live odds is canned. The TV bookies have been kicked out of the stadium. The banners and logos and other promotions will no longer flash across our screens. Some of these measures go further than my private member's bill which was focused on advertising during children's viewing times. This is welcome. It may well not be the last word on the matter. Bookmakers and broadcasters must make these changes happen immediately or parliament will step in.
Of course if we want to see sport on free-to-air TV, we have to have some advertising. But corporate bookies, broadcasters and professional codes are now on notice. Gambling and professional sport can coexist but we cannot have a model professional sport or free-to-air broadcasting that is dependent on gambling revenue for its viability. The greatest threat is not from government but from viewers. If broadcasters fill the remaining slots during the broadcast with gambling ads, they will see sports fans walking away from their TV sets. If that happens, other advertisers will wonder why they are paying good money for empty chairs seats.