The Australian government is set to tighten laws on spot betting during sports broadcasts amid concerns that live odds betting is encouraging unhealthy gambling habits among young and impressionable sports fans.
Worth around US$3 billion in 2008, the sports betting industry has skyrocketed in recent years. Bookmaker sponsors have become a prominent feature of sports broadcasters’ coverage as well as on scoreboards within venues.
The Select Council on Gambling Reform released a statement on Friday that said, "Governments are concerned that promotion, including commentary by sporting role models, is becoming insidious in live sports coverage. We are concerned that this can significantly influence vulnerable and young people and normalize gambling behavior."
June 2012 Deadline
The betting industry has been given a June 2012 deadline to bring live odds promotion under control. Failure to address the issues will result in the implementation of strict laws that will apply to all sporting codes, with the exception of horse racing, which has traditional roots in betting.
"You won't need to have [former Australia cricketer and TV commentator] Richie Benaud telling you, ‘here's the odds on who's going to get out next,’ or ‘who's going to bowl the next no-ball’, that kind of advertising that is being pushed," said Stephen Conroy, federal communications minister.
New live odds promotion contracts with sports broadcasters will be prohibited, but previously existing agreements will be allowed to continue, provided the new guidelines are observed.
COMPPS Calls for Control
The crackdown comes amid calls from the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) for the government to take control of sports-related gambling and just a day after a player from the top-flight National Rugby League was indicted for his involvement in spot-fixing.
COMPPS has submitted a paper on the problem of spot betting, proposing that the seven major professional sports leagues - AFL, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, soccer, tennis and netball - tackle the issue together.
The paper put forward three suggestions to federal sports minister Mark Arbib, including a “right to veto” sports and bookmaker agreements. It also recommends that all sports betting legislation be completely transparent and that criminal legislation be put in place in extreme cases of non-compliance.
Andrew Demetriou, chief executive of the country’s most popular sport, the Australian Football League (AFL), welcomed the restrictions on live odds promotion, saying “it is absolutely an issue that this sort of in-your-face advertising has the potential to get in the heads of young children."
Authorities are also examining online gambling laws to tighten restrictions and enable legislation to properly rein in unauthorized betting websites.
Key Players – Australian Sports Betting
- TAB, Centrebet, Sportingbet, Betclic, Betfair, IASbet, Sportsbet, Bet365, Stan James Bookmakers, Ladbrokes Bookmakers, Victor Chandler Bookmakers, BlueSquare Sports Betting, Betfred, Eurobet, William Hill Bookmakers, Bookmaker.com, Sports Interaction