Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has intervened in the sports betting debate, demanding TV and radio networks ban the promotion of live odds and restrict gambling advertisements during sporting matches.
Her intervention comes after months of public anger about the promotion of gambling during televised sport.
The controversy was sparked by bookmaker Tom Waterhouse, who has flooded the airwaves with gambling advertisements and appeared on the Channel Nine commentary team to spruik betting odds during rugby league matches.
Under Labor's demands - which come several weeks after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott flagged a Coalition government would take action against televised betting - all promotion of betting odds on broadcast media would be banned during games.
Under the new rules, gambling advertisements would be prohibited during commercial breaks while matches are being played. Advertisements of this sort would only be allowed before or after a game; or during a scheduled break in play, such as quarter-time and half-time, the Prime Minister's office confirmed.
"The government will monitor the intensity of generic gambling advertisements within the allowed periods," a spokesman for the Prime Minister said.
"If it is found to go beyond reasonable levels, the government will impose a total advertising ban.''
In a rule seemingly tailored for Mr Waterhouse, Ms Gillard said representatives of gambling companies must not appear with a sports commentary team at any time.
"The public have had enough of odds and betting promotions being shoved down their throats while listening to and watching sport," Ms Gillard said in a statement.
"Younger Australians in particular should continue to talk about which is the best football team ... not which team is at the shortest odds to win a game."
Trade Minister Craig Emerson told ABC television on Sunday morning he did not watch a lot of AFL, but "I see Tom Waterhouse and I see spruikers and I think it is a bad development.
"It is fundamentally destroying Australian viewing on television of sport and the PM is acting," Mr Emerson said.
However Mr Abbott said the government had embraced Coalition policy, and were ''playing catch up politics" with today's announcement.
Ms Gillard has asked broadcasters to submit a revised code to the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
The Greens welcomed Ms Gillard's push to ban gambling odds during live sports programs and restrict generic advertising, but argued the government needed to go further.
Senator Richard Di Natale, Greens spokesperson on gambling and sport, said Labor's proposed changes "would do nothing to stop the discussion of odds during sports shows like The Footy Show and it would do nothing to end the bizarre loophole that allows gambling ads to be shown during kids' viewing times.
"I have a bill before the parliament that would do three things: ban all gambling ads before 9pm; ban all odds during sport and sports related programs, like The Footy Show; and prevent gambling ads from being integrated into broadcasts," Senator Di Natale said.
"The combination of these reforms would have done much more to protect our kids from the normalisation of gambling and protect the purity of Australian sport."
If the broadcasting industry does not agree to the ban, the government will fast-track legislation into parliament to enshrine the new rules before the September election.
- Sydney Morning Herald