Gambling and sport. It’s the hot topic of the moment, even hotter in many ways than poker machines were last year… and it’s not hard to see why.
The sad truth with the pokies is that despite the massive harm they cause (two thirds of gambling losses in Australia every year are on poker machines), only 4% of our population play the pokies regularly. It’s all too easy for the rest of the country to ignore what’s going on… which is why, after all the wailing and chest-beating about pre-commitment and $1 bets, from both sides, it’s now a dead issue to all but a few diehards like myself.
But sport; that’s a whole different story. Australia is, in general, mad about sport. AFL, NRL, cricket, A-League, Rugby Union… the sporting world hums along 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, every year. It never stops.
So the encroachment of gambling into sport, once subtle but now roaring along at breakneck pace, is getting into the faces of the majority of the Australian population. Not just adults either; teens and kids are being bombarded with the same saturation advertising and promotion as everyone else.
If it’s not Tom Waterhouse’s self-satisfied smirk, it’s Samuel L Jackson extolling the virtues of Bet365. If it’s not Shane Crawford spruiking betting-shop footy tipping, it’s Trent Barrett or Billy Brownless. If it’s not Sportsbet, it’s Centrebet. Or Luxbet. Or the TAB.
And it Never. Ever. Stops.
Tom Waterhouse and Glenn Munsie – betting commentators
Even now, a Senate Committee on gambling reform is looking into gambling in sport and holding hearings around the country. Tom Waterhouse’s recent $50 million deal with the NRL will be looked at, as will the rights and responsibilities of sporting codes and clubs, TV broadcasters and commentators, and sports betting agencies around the country and, indeed, the globe.
I’ve appeared before a number of Senate Committee hearings on gambling, but I’m not attending this one. However, if I were, my contribution would be this:
I have a simple solution. It’s based on the need to preserve not only the integrity of the game, ANY game, but also the integrity of sport in its interactions with our youth
Any sport that encourages kids to participate and follow, MUST enforce a blanket ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship.
No club sponsorship. No TV sponsorship. No advertising billboards. No branded boundary ropes. No special comments from sports betting agencies. No half time odds updates. None of it.
It’s time to draw the line.
If betting companies want to buy advertising time in ad breaks? Sure, go right ahead … but not in kid-friendly timeslots.
It’s as simple as that.