Edition #2: Gambling today

Hand operating remote control in foreground with horseracing on a TV in the background
Hand operating remote control in foreground with horseracing on a TV in the background
Photo: iStock

Is Channel 78 a Trojan horse?

This Spring Racing Carnival sees a new set of silks on the television field.

In June, Racing Victoria announced a new partnership with Channel Seven to broadcast all Victorian race meetings. Launched in August, the new free-to-air digital channel has changed the way Victorians are able to watch local horse races.

Through Channel 78 in metropolitan Melbourne and through Channel 68 in regional Victoria, racing.com delivers all Victorian race meetings to our lounge rooms. It also broadcasts the races to most capital cities and regional areas in Australia.

A prime-time punt

With all 520 Victorian race meetings beamed into most hotels, clubs and homes in Australia for 363 days each year, there is now unprecedented coverage for viewing and betting.

As a result of the new channel, Racing Victoria announced it would significantly increase the number of Thursday and Friday night race meetings over summer. Around 60 night meetings are planned for the 2016–17 season, which will be broadcast into homes during prime viewing times.

Racing Victoria chairman David Moodie says this 'should make for good television viewing, good for people to attend after work, and good for increased wagering'.

Children more exposed to gambling advertising

Racing Victoria previously broadcast races via the Sky Racing Network, which meant they could only be viewed at hotels, clubs and homes subscribing to the pay-TV channel. As the owner of Sky Racing, Tabcorp was the only advertiser on the channel. 

The move to Channel Seven has allowed online bookmakers to expand their advertising and promotional reach to punters. With the previous restrictions no longer applicable, they advertise extensively on the new channel.

With races airing during prime-time and G-rated television periods, the likelihood of children being exposed to the gambling advertising is extremely high.

With the previous restrictions no longer applicable, they advertise extensively on the new channel.

A number of online bookmakers have also bought the digital rights to Victorian races, enabling their account holders to watch races on desktops, laptops and mobile devices. This means punters can watch and place bets on Victorian races on the same device, creating a one-stop 'betting shop'.

While the new channel will bolster the financial stability of the Victorian racing industry, the increased exposure of children to gambling, and the increased seamlessness of viewing and punting, are of significant concern.

Parents who do not wish their children to be inadvertently exposed to Channel 78 can block or delete it from their digital televisions. Most TV manuals include instructions on how to do this. It will not block reception of any other channels.

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