TikTok allows gambling ads in Australia despite ban

Published on: November 7, 2022, 11:15 am.

Last updated: November 7, 2022, 11:15 a.m.

While some US lawmakers are calling for a complete ban on TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing platform is flouting its own rules in Australia. The company’s terms and conditions expressly prohibit gambling-related advertising, but this did not prevent it from allowing Sportsbet to begin advertising through a pilot program.

TikTok gambling ads
One of Australia’s seven gambling ads, Sportsbet, runs on TikTok. The idea of ​​gambling ads on the social media platform is creating controversy in the country. (Image: TikTok/Sportsbet ad)

TikTok confirmed with ABC News process in a statement, but said it was only a “limited process” that the company was monitoring closely. The pilot is already causing friction in Australia, which is currently looking for ways to clamp down on all forms of gambling-related advertising.

More than 27 percent of TikTok users are under 17, according to Oberlo, and 25 percent are 21 or younger. Given the current anti-gambling environment, the Sportsbet rider is unlikely to find permanent legs.

Attracting younger punters

TikTok is confident that it can prevent anyone under 21 from viewing gambling sites. However, when registering for a new account, there is no mandatory requirement to use an actual date of birth.

Sportsbet reportedly approached TikTok, which now wants to enter the streaming music segment with TikTok Music, to request the pilot program, which the company agreed to. It’s unclear how much the sports betting company is paying, but it’s unlikely that TikTok will allow betting-related ads for free.

Ads do not overtly promote betting. Instead, they hide it inside the content, which is designed to appear as a normal video. The only indication that it is a promotion is the Sportsbet name and the inclusion of the government-mandated ‘Gamble Responsibly’ slogan.

However, there is no way to prevent ads from appearing at certain times of the day. This means that they could eventually run into trouble with regulators.

In addition, Australia recently approved the introduction of new taglines. Operators are now starting to enter them, and the appearance of a message like “What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit” will probably take up the entire TikTok screen.

Request to ban TikTok

Some Australian lawmakers want the pilot project canceled and buried in the sand. They prefer a complete ban on gambling advertising, but the US wants to go one step further and bury TikTok in the sand.

Every few years, US lawmakers call for a ban on the streaming platform. It obviously didn’t happen, even serving as a model for YouTube Shorts and the like, but now there’s another push to coincide with the midterm elections.

At the heart of the issue is the revelation that the company behind TikTok is ByteDance, a Chinese firm. Although it has significant backing from companies like Sequoia Capital and BlackRock, all the data it compiles has previously arrived at its headquarters in China.

TikTok has moved its servers to the US following backlash that user data could end up with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It also stated that none of the information is accessible outside the network.

Some lawmakers have expressed concern that this is not entirely true. Senators Josh Hawley and Rick Scott say there are CCP members on ByteDance’s board of directors. For them, this involves an inherent security risk.

TikTok maintains a secondary line of servers in Singapore, providing backup to the primary network. All US user data is assumed to be copied to those servers.

Certain representatives of the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have also called for a ban on TikTok. It’s not a scenario that’s likely to happen, but changes will almost certainly come.

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