CANBERRA: Australia's federal government may slash ads for online gambling sites during live sports, according to media reports, with sports betting making up one in every six ads during live AFL matches last year.

The move appears to be a political manoeuvre by the Liberal government to win independent MP support for laws which reportedly water down the country's media ownership restrictions. According to Fairfax Media, the government is prepared to reduce gambling advertising on television to secure the support of three independent MPs on media reform legislation.

Gambling is a big money maker for TV networks – over just four years, spending by gambling brands ballooned from $A95m to $236m. Free-to-air players could lose up to $120m in revenue if stricter gambling ad regulations were imposed.

The idea is already facing a backlash from Australia's biggest TV stations, with Ten Network and Seven quick to push back.

"Sports betting advertising is plastered on buses and around sporting grounds, and it is all over the internet including on Facebook and Instagram," Ten Networks CEO Paul Anderson said, in comments reported by B&T Magazine."But once again, all we are talking about is placing more restrictions on free-to-air television which already has tighter controls around gambling advertising than any other media platform."

Seven's Tim Werner is similarly unimpressed.

"(TV stations) already have the strongest rules in place of any media platform around gambling advertising and they are rules that we stick to, not guidelines. Claims around the amount of gambling advertising in AFL and other sports are significantly and consistently overstated," he said.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald, B&T; additional content by Warc staff