TikTok Allows Gambling Ads in Australia Despite Ban

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TikTok Allows Gambling Ads in Australia Despite Ban

As some US lawmakers call for a complete ban on TikTok, the video-sharing platform with Chinese origins is breaking its own rules in Australia. The company’s terms and conditions expressly forbid gambling-related advertising. But this hasn’t stopped it from allowing Sportsbet to start advertising through a pilot program.

TikTok Gambling Ads
TikTok Gambling Ads
One of seven gambling ads Australian sportsbook Sportsbet is running on TikTok. The idea of gambling ads on the social media platform is creating controversy in the country. (Image: TikTok/Sportsbet ad)

TikTok confirmed the trial with ABC News in a statement, but said that it is just a “limited trial” that the company is closely monitoring. The pilot is already causing friction in Australia, which is currently looking at ways to reduce all forms of gambling-related advertising.

Over 27% of the users on TikTok are under 17 years of age, according to Oberlo, and 25% are 21 years old or younger. In light of the current anti-gambling environment, it isn’t likely that Sportsbet’s pilot is going to find permanent legs.

Attracting Younger Bettors

TikTok is confident that it can prevent anyone younger than 21 from seeing the gambling spots. However, when signing up for a new account, there’s no forced requirement to use an actual date of birth.

Sportsbet allegedly contacted TikTok, which now wants to get into the streaming music segment with TikTok Music, to request the pilot program, to which the company agreed. It isn’t clear how much the sports betting company is paying. But it isn’t likely TikTok is allowing the betting-related ads for free.

The ads don’t 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 “Gamble Responsibly” tagline the government requires.

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

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

Calls For A TikTok Ban

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

Every few years, lawmakers in the US call for a ban on the streaming platform. It obviously hasn’t happened, even serving as the model for YouTube Shorts and others. But there’s now another push coinciding 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 previously went to its Chinese headquarters.

TikTok moved its servers to the US following backlash that user data might be making its way to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It also stated that none of the information is accessible outside the network.

Some lawmakers have expressed their concerns that this isn’t completely true. Senators Josh Hawley and Rick Scott assert that there are members of the CCP on ByteDance’s board. To them, this implies an inherent security risk.

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

Certain representatives of the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department have also called for a ban on TikTok. It’s not a scenario that is likely to come to pass. But changes are almost certainly coming.

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