Australia: South Australian Premier agrees to remove “Gambling starts with Games” advertisements

In its latest step to reduce the perceived harm that might be inflicted on children by simulated gambling, the South Australian Government has commenced an advertising campaign, featuring a billboard with an image of a young girl, holding an iPad while sitting at a poker table, surrounded by playing cards and poker chips. The billboard contains the headline “Gambling starts with Games”.

The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) wrote to the Strategic Communications Unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, requesting that  the billboard be withdrawn and removed from public display on the basis that it gave rise to inaccurate and unsubstantiated representations that:

  • playing games, including tablet computer games, leads to gambling; and
  • playing simulated gambling games leads to gambling.

The IGEA argued that, given the billboard directs the public to South Australian Government’s www.nogame.sa.gov.au website, and the research on that website does not actually support these representations, the billboard breached the Marketing Communications and Advertising Guidelines published by the South Australian Government in March 2013. The Guidelines require that particular care is taken to ensure:

  • accuracy and objectivity in the presentation of all facts, statistics, comparisons and other arguments, ensuring that the source of all data is indicated or that a means for identifying the data source is provided with the Government communication; and
  • all statements, claims and arguments included in the Government communication are able to be substantiated.

A full copy of the IGEA’s letter of complaint is available here.

Yesterday, the Honourable Premier Jay Weatherill, conceded that the intention of the billboard was not to send a message about all games and that the billboard could give rise to the misrepresentations. He has indicated that the billboard will soon be removed.

However, as we have previously discussed (here), simulated gambling is a key area of concern for the South Australian Government. Despite the Premier’s concession in relation to the billboard, it is clear that the South Australian Government is not backing away from its reform agenda.

Judith Miller and Jaimie Wolbers