Constitutional questions over betting ban

Friday, 24 May 2013

The South Australian Government's plans to ban live betting advertising in broadcast media and at sporting grounds raises some serious legal questions, says University of Adelaide constitutional expert Professor John Williams.

Professor Williams, Dean of the University's Adelaide Law School, says that the move would be open to Commonwealth challenge, but carefully drafted legislation could see the SA Government have its way.

"The legal question will be whether this ban on broadcasting live betting is possible in South Australia when national broadcasters are involved," says Professor Williams.

"Historically State parliaments have been responsible for regulating gaming using South Australian legislation that regulates licensing of local as well as interstate betting operators.

"Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has authority to regulate 'postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services'. The Commonwealth Parliament has established the Australian Communications and Media Authority as the regulator as well as the Broadcasting Services Act."

Professor Williams says there are two possible constitutional challenges to a South Australian ban: that a broadcaster with a Commonwealth licence should be able to conduct their business free of any inconsistent South Australian law; and that South Australia is protecting its gambling industry from interstate bookmakers.

"Those drafting the South Australian legislation would need to ensure that regulation targeted bookmakers rather than broadcasters, and didn't differentiate between interstate and local bookmakers," he says.

"Then the proposed ban might defeat a challenge brought on constitutional grounds."


Contact Details

Professor John Williams
Dean of Law School
Director, South Australian Law Reform Institute
The University of Adelaide

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814