Against Its Own Rules, TikTok Allows Sportsbet Gambling Commercials

In Australia, Sportsbet has become the first online gambling company ever to advertise their services on TikTok. The platform prohibits the promotion of (online) gambling, but made an exception for the Australian bookmaker. With a special campaign focusing on Rihanna’s half time show at the SuperBowl, Sportsbet hoped to target more female customers.

The social media platform, mainly popular among young people, strictly prohibits the promotion of any (online) gambling related activities. However, an exception was recently made for Sportsbet, one of the brands of gambling giant Flutter Entertainment. The bookmaker was allowed to place a gambling advertisement as part of an experiment, it was announced. The exception for Sportsbet was included by Tiktok in its adapted advertising guidelines. Whether this paves the way for future gambling related ads is not clear.

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Targeting Australian Women

Sportsbet’s ad, which was only seen by Australian users, targeted young, overage women. According to inside information, the bookmaker was keen to diversify their customer base, as Sportsbet’s customers are generally male. A TikTok spokesperson said the company ran an Australian-first “strictly controlled advertising pilot” with Sportsbet, a move gambling experts have now labelled “concerning”. The social media platform added that the in-app ads would be closely monitored to make sure users had a “safe experience”. The ad also contained the “gamble-responsibly warning” which is required by law.

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Rihanna Halftime Show

Despite the fact that the Sportsbet trial was announced in November 2022, the gambling campaign started a few weeks ago and ended last Sunday. To make more (young) women aware about the availability of online sports betting in their country, a campaign was scheduled for the Super Bowl that was played last weekend in the United States. The bookie says it did not opt for a campaign aimed at sports betting, but focused on a so-called novelty bet. These types of bets can be played every year during the Super Bowl and mainly focus on the halftime show. Users at the Australian bookmaker had the option to bet on the pregnancy of Rihanna or the number of songs she would sing during the show. As such, Sportsbet hoped to appeal to the young women with such bets.

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Minors Were Excluded From Seeing the Ad

Despite the fact that TikTok is particularly popular amongst young people, a spokesperson for the online gambling company says that minors were not able to see the advertisement as it was only shown to Australian women aged 21 and over. According to the Aussie bookmaker, all impressions were closely monitored and users were also given the option to hide the ads by Sportsbet. In Australia, Tik Tok and Sportsbet’s choice to use the medium to reach young women have been under fire. The Alliance for Gambling Reform, a gambling prevention partner in Australia, has shown its far going concern that young women are dragged into a world of gambling on low quality content like reality shows.

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