2 Mar

Will Hill criticized for upping Ad Spend for Australia Online Betting

William Hill Australia Online Betting FirmDo as I say, not as I do.” This has been a typical (although generally unspoken) motto for parents, who aim to raise their children to be better than they are. But it’s applicable to much more than parenting these days. Australia online betting giant William Hill is under heavy criticism for taking a similar stance this week.

In its bi-annual corporate report, Will Hill confirmed intentions to increase its spending on advertisements in Australia. This is rather ironic, since the company is a member of a newly formed group who’s mission statement declares its desire to promote responsible gambling practices, including a notable reduction in commercial marketing.

I’ll wager former Senator Stephen Conroy, head of that organization, is grinding his teeth right about now.

Let’s back up a bit…

In September of last year, Sen. Conroy stunned Parliament when he announced his early retirement. At that time, he was offered a job to head up Responsible Gambling Australia, an organization determined to support political efforts to curb gambling addiction and promote more responsible gambling practices.

Two months later, he formally agreed to take the position, heading up the RWA. A number of the country’s most successful online betting groups, including Betfair, CrownBet, Sportsbet, Unibet and – of course – William Hill, are all stakeholders in, and backers of, the RWA.

Australia Online Betting Giant Raising Hackles

The irony is that one of the group’s major positions has been the need to reduce spending on marketing advertisements geared towards Australia online betting. Obviously, William Hill didn’t take that particular goal to heart in its recent corporate filings.

In the company’s 2016 annual report, Will Hill stated, “In Australia, recent improvement in performance has given us the confidence to consolidate our challenger position with more marketing investment.”

As noted this week by AFR, a subsequent bi-annual results document confirmed that Will Hill intends to increase spending on its ad campaigns in Australia from 26% of net revenue, to 28%, for a grand total of $58 million in Australian marketing expenses.

Television viewers, radio listeners and highway drivers are already bombarded with messages and billboards, encouraging them to ‘Bet now!‘ with a range of licenced bookmakers. The additional spending will ensure that – if anyone happened to miss the last 100 commercial ads – no one misses out on the message.

In December, when Conroy made his first public statement regarding his crown position with the RWA, he vowed to uphold the group’s mission:

…a shared objective of ensuring that Australia has the best-conducted, socially responsible wagering industry in the world.”

That objective specifically revolved around minimizing the number of Australia online betting ads aired during televised sports broadcasts. As such, it will be very interesting to see how Mr. Conroy responds to this new situation with William Hill.

No New Jobs For Australians

On an equally interesting side note, the bi-annual report also indicated that, to engage in a “significant cost benefit”, the company will be moving its Australian office back to Manila.

As AFR‘s Bryce Corbett so eloquently put it:

They come here, pay a piddling amount to be licensed in the Northern Territory, hoover up as much punters’ cash as possible, and don’t even reinvest in local jobs. Outstanding!

And we wonder why so many Australians turn to international, unregulated operators to place their wagers. It would seem many of them uphold better business practices and responsibilities than their licenced competitors.