By Laura Clifton-Jones

Females hold the power to change the sports betting advertising regulations, according to a poll.

The survey conducted by a marketing and corporate public relations consultancy found 10 per cent of Australians think sports bets ads are more harmful than alcohol or tobacco ads.

But almost a third of females were undecided on whether odds should be given during live television coverage or if betting agencies should be allowed to sponsor sporting teams or events.

Crossman Communications Managing Director Jackie Crossman says sports betting agencies would feel the pressure of regulation if women become aware of their marketing techniques.

“I’m positive so many women are in the ‘can’t say’ category, not because they can’t make up their minds, but because the issue hasn’t registered on their radars,” Ms Crossman says.

“They simply don’t watch sports coverage or read the sports section enough to get a feel for the issue and would prefer to spend hard-earned money on more tangible goods and services.”

But if this were to change, Ms Crossman thinks women have the power to make sports betting advertisements regulated.

RELATED COVERAGE: Media Watchdog to probe NRL commentators, in the Herald Sun.

“If mums and girlfriends turn the heat up on this issue the odds of sports betting agencies being able to market their product via sports teams, venues and events will plummet.”

But with sports betting ads featuring heavily in the AFL and NRL finals last week, the shift towards online sports betting is paying off.

A senior analyst at industry-based research provider IBIS World says Australians spend $24.7 billion annually on sports betting and that amount will increase significantly in the next 5 years.

Mr Paul Lyons says the trend to move sports betting online will bring big returns to sports betting agencies in the years to come.

“Online betting has grown strongly over the past four to five years,” he says. “Currently it makes up 22 per cent of the $24.7 billion [expenditure] but by 2016/2017, we expect that number to have grown to 40 per cent.”

Mr Lyons says the online betting market is appealing to a young demographic who will opt to steer away from TABs and head online to bet.

“Online betting is popular because there’s a growing number of events which are available to bet on, ease of access, just about every second person has a Smartphone these days, and lower overheads which means they can offer better returns,” Mr Lyons says.

Online betting is becoming the latest gambling fad, according to specialist in addiction psychiatry Dr Clive Allcock.

He says over the last 20 years gamblers have moved from horse racing to poker machines and now online sports betting is becoming popular with a younger demographic.

“What the advertising means is that the core of [problem gamblers] will move from this other type of gambling to online betting along with many other people who will gamble and not have a problem,” he says.

“The biggest form of gambling problem is actually with the 18 to 24 year olds be it poker machine or sports betting.

Things get better as people get older because most people tend to grow out of it.”

But Dr Allcock wants betting ads regulated because hoping people will grow out of sports betting is too much of a risk.

He acknowledges betting agencies’ right to advertise as a legitimate business but Dr Allcock says sports commentators should be totally independent of promoting the product and not comment on odds or be part of the live-cross to ads.

“If the product should be promoted it should be a separate add during a try scoring moment or a half time break or something like that and not pushed and endorsed by the commentators,” he says.

WATCH ABC: The Gruen Transfer's take on sports bet advertising

Panellists on the Gruen Transfer, an ABC marketing program, devoted most of their discussion to this in-game advertising strategy of betting agencies.

Ms Crossman says this marketing strategy is making sports betting mainstream, especially now placing a bet is a touch of a Smartphone away.

“Not only are the younger generation less concerned about the marketing practices of sports betting agencies, they are also the biggest customers,” says Ms Crossman.

Currently betting agencies like Centrebet, Sportsbet and Sportingbet offer online betting facilities and use their sponsorships with a number of NRL and AFL teams to attract clients.

There are no regulations that prevent these sporting agencies from paying for betting odds to be part of the commentary during the sports event.

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