Australian gaming operator Tabcorp will seek an independent review of a decision by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) against a TV advertisement for the TAB mobile app which was found to depict excessive gambling.

The ABS ruled that the TV spot which aired in October had contravened Section 2.8 of the AANA Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communications Code, which says gambling marketing pitches “must not portray, condone or encourage excessive participation in wagering activities.”

The advertisement depicts a man’s wife asking him about his weekend away with his friends. The man then reminisces about the fishing trip with his mates and through a “flashback” shows them continuously using the TAB app on their mobiles studying betting odds and watching live racing broadcasts. The man responds to the woman’s question by saying only: “Yeah… loved it.”

The ASB received numerous complaints about the ad, some suggesting that the men had spent their entire weekend gambling, then lying about it to their spouses, while other complaints claimed the ad glorified gambling.  One complainant stated that the ad implied that it would be “fun” and “sociable” to lie to your partner about gambling addiction, and that it glamorised gambling as a kind of pleasure that one could indulge in over a weekend.

Tabcorp said the ad was intended to promote the variety of TAB racing action “in a lighthearted and humorous manner and to depict the enjoyment that many Australians derive from using the racing form and watching racing vision on their phone.” Tabcorp also pointed out that the ad contains “no direct portrayal of the male characters actually gambling or wagering.”

The ASB rejected complaints that the man in the ad appeared to have lied to his partner and thus the ad didn’t depict material “contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.” The ASB also cleared Tabcorp of strongly condoning or encouraging excessive participation in wagering activities, but found them guilty of portraying excessive participation.

Tabcorp disagreed with the ASB’s conclusion, and said it will seek an independent review. Regardless, Tabcorp says the ad isn’t currently airing on either free-to-air or pay-TV and the company won’t re-air the spot until its independent review is concluded.