Shaquille O’Neal has found himself on the hot seat over gambling ads that went to air on Australian shores.
The NBA megastar isn’t immune to sharing the screen promoting gambling, but it’s the latest commercials for PointsBet that struck a nerve.
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A viewer’s complaint has sparked a probe into the commercials after they were labelled as being “offensive” against Aussies. The complaint from the viewer said the material discriminated and vilified while painting Aussies as stupid yobbos.
“I’m an Aussie too, and don’t identify as a yobbos lout like these characters are portrayed,” the complaint letter reads.
“It’s offensive to me as an Australian to see my culture (put) down like this.”
Shaq appears alongside Aussie comedy group The Inspired Unemployed in the ads which received the complaint.
In one the group are sitting around when the four-time NBA champion asks about a horse in an upcoming race.
Shaq: “How about this filly in the fifth fellas, put a $50 on it?”
The men respond: “Yeah Nah, I’d give her the old (whistle) ya know? How ya going, how ya been? Nah Yeah Nah, Yeah Yeah.”
A befuddled Shaq says: “Is that a yes or no?”
The men say: “Nah yep. Greys in the wet, hey. Having a trot you know? (whistle) Good sort. (whistle) Came to play. You know?”
“Up the guts. Good size. Where you going? How ya been?”
Shaq: “You Aussies sure are built different” before finishing with “you know what they call me, mate? Shaqadile Dundee.”
PointsBet were forced to defend the commercials to the Ad Standards panel as they stated they “unquestionably believes that the advertisement is wholly compliant with all applicable codes and legislative or regulatory regimes”.
The betting agency explained to the panel the ads were never intended to be disrespectful to Australians.
“Australia, people, and place is known throughout the world to be uniquely different,” PointsBet said in a statement to the panel.
“This uniqueness is a positive trait that extends to our vernacular, places, animals and more.
“It is a place like no other with its own peculiar take on the English language and sport.
“In reality, it is common that persons not familiar with Australiana struggle to understand our colloquialisms, mannerisms and the like.”
The panel dismissed the complaint after finding it had not breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics.
“The phrases used in the first version advertisement were deliberately exaggerated for humorous effect, and did not suggest that all young Australian men were stupid or unable to speak intelligibly,” the panel ruled.