Sports broadcasting, gambling advertising and live odds — is further regulation needed?

By Nick Fitzpatrick and Dylan Kennett

Of the many Australian traditions, there is one that unifies the country irrespective of background and geographical location — sitting down to Friday-night footy with friends and family. It is quite clearly a national pastime whose roots run deep and is sacrosanct in the eyes of many. Currently, there is a conversation being had as to the role of gambling, specifically the advertising of gambling in Australian sports.

The focal point of much of the ire of the public had been on Tom Waterhouse, owner of tomwaterhouse.com, one of the more popular online betting websites available to Australians. Online gambling was nothing new, but the levels of intrusion into Friday night football was getting too much for many Australians to handle. Waterhouse was often involved in match punditry, providing odds on the game itself, as well as upcoming horseraces. Complaints were made and Nine Network moved Waterhouse to a sponsored role, where on the sidelines, he would provide the odds. Nonetheless, gambling, advertising and Australian sports, (most notably rugby league and the AFL) had become inextricably linked.

In late April, Free TV Australia, (the industry body which represents all of Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licencees) submitted a proposal to amend the Commercial Television Code of Practice to prohibit commentators and their guests promoting live odds during matches. It did not go as far as to ban sponsored segments to promote odds when games were not in play, such as advertising breaks. Tom Waterhouse would no longer serve as a pundit, but could quite clearly still advertise during the football…

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