Australia to end live betting odds during sports: PM Gillard

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia will ban the broadcast of betting odds during live sports matches under new rules unveiled on Sunday designed to keep the watching of sport separate from the promotion of gambling.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the government had ordered broadcasters to amend their codes to ensure a reduction in the promotion and advertising of gambling during sport.

"All promotion of betting odds on broadcast media will be prohibited during live sports matches. This includes by gambling companies and commentators," Ms Gillard said in a joint statement with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

"All generic gambling broadcast advertisements will be banned during play. 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 government said it will monitor the intensity of generic gambling advertisements within the allowed periods, and if these were found to "go beyond reasonable levels" a total advertising ban would be imposed.

"From the moment that the players step onto the field, to the moment that they leave the field, there will be no live odds," Ms Gillard told reporters in Sydney.

"This is good news for families, because families I think have become increasingly frustrated about the penetration of live odds into sporting coverage."

Under the new rules, banner advertisements, sponsorship logos, and other broadcast promotions must not appear during play. Representatives of gambling companies cannot appear with the commentary team and when crossed to, cannot be at or around the venue and must be clearly identified.

The government said it expected the broadcasting industry to submit a revised code to the Australian Communications and Media Authority reflecting these changes soon.

"Should the industry elect not to do this, the government will fast-track legislation to enshrine these standards in this term of parliament," Ms Gillard said in the statement with MR Conroy.

Ms Gillard, an avid supporter of Australian Rules football, has long complained about the integration of gambling into sports matches.

"I think it has just got over the top, and so I think people will be relieved to hear this today," she said.

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