Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

With the 2017 AFL season nearly upon us, the sports betting agencies are gearing up for another onslaught of advertising across TV, Pay TV, radio, newspapers and the internet.  It really depresses me that our local game is now in bed with the betting agencies, so closely linked that the AFL relies on the money, while at the same time warning the AFL players of the dangers of gambling.  It was pleasing that some of the players have made comments about this irony recently, and with many AFL players now family men, they are also acutely aware of the responsibility they have to raise their own children in a gambling free environment – which is difficult to avoid when their kids are watching daddy on TV and there is a sports betting ad or odds update during every commercial break after a goal has been kicked.

GAMBLING advertising during AFL games is “out of control” according to Western Bulldogs premiership captain Easton Wood.

Wood took to Twitter during the telecast of Friday night’s AFLW game between the Bulldogs and Adelaide to raise his concerns and asked fans whether they agreed.

Wood’s tweet was retweeted more than 1000 times and had more than 2700 likes. Most of the replies were strong in their support, however some queried whether he would be prepared to play for less money if the gaming industry pulled its financial support for the game.

In a note attached to the tweet, he said the Bulldogs this week had their annual education session with the AFL, which he described as “both informative and well run.”

But he questioned why there was so much gambling advertising if gambling was such a big issue that it required an annual information session from the League.

“Why – as an industry – do we support the onslaught of gambling advertising you’re now faced with when watching an AFL game?” he wrote in the tweet.

“The obvious issue here is the effect this advertising has on children every time we pull on our boots. The big question is do we think the normalization of gambling – particularly to kids – is acceptable in this day and age?”

Friday night’s match was broadcast live on Fox Footy in Victoria, but the gambling industry advertises across all forms of live sport. The industry standard is that 10 per cent of advertising during live sport broadcasts can promote sports betting.

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Easton Wood

RESOLVING the issues surrounding gambling in the AFL won’t be easy but the conversation needs to happen, Geelong veteran Harry Taylor says.

Taylor said it was a concern to him that the eldest of his three children was able to name the gambling-related advertisements he saw when watching sport on TV.

However he said further education and discussion were critical if answers were to be found on the appropriate relationship between gambling and professional sport.

“When my eldest can name a lot of the ads on TV, that is a bit of a worry,” Taylor said.

“It’s certainly something that we need to keep talking about [and] educating people about. It’s not as simple as just cutting them out of the AFL.”

Western Bulldogs premiership skipper Easton Wood put the issue back on the agenda at the weekend when he questioned the level of gambling advertising during televised AFL games.

Wood wrote on social media: “Do we think the normalisation of gambling – particularly to kids – is acceptable in this day and age?”

Taylor said more education was needed for AFL players and society in general.

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From the Age, July 15 2016

by Greg Baum

When Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie announced their mission to loosen the nexus between gambling and sport in Australia on Thursday, it was not hard to imagine that in the offices of some corporate bookies, the first thing they did was to frame a market on the likelihood of the politicians’ success, complete with cash-back options and bonus bets.

The next thing would have been to commission an advertising campaign featuring a bar and a couple of dorky young men frothing at their mouths while stroking their unshaven chins – quite dextrous, really – and two young women in the background, bestowing on them a patronising roll of their eyes.

“This is the gift horse everyone makes sure keeps its mouth shut.” Illustration: Jim Pavlidis.

It used to be said that Australians would bet on two flies crawling up a wall. It was an innocent enough image, implying friendly competition between mates at the manageable level of whatever they had in their pockets at the time, even if it did gloss over the certainty that one of them would always pick the wrong fly, yet refuse to give up, convince himself that the next fly on the other wall was a dead-set cert and be wrong again, with consequences no one much talked about then.

Now the cliche would be that Australians would bet on any two of thousands of contingencies arising out of happenings – not always sport – anywhere in the world, offered to them by a corporate bookie and outlaid and – sometimes – redeemed at the push of a smartphone button, no longer limited to loose change and ready cash, nor even by state or international borders, not restricted at all. Merry-making mates and the girls who so generously indulge them don’t come into it, no matter what the ads say.

The punt has become institutionalised, a miserable process. Australians used to be sceptical about institutions. Now we wear their T-shirts.

I can’t remember an election campaign like the most recent in the way the bookies’ markets were reported and dwelled upon about as prominently as the polls. The usual justification was that polls were not reliable, but the bookies rarely got it wrong. But they did this time.

Where does that leave us? Here, that the gambling industry has infiltrated every part of Australian life and become a massive force in it. Expect at the next election to hear Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – if it is still him – declare not that he is confident of victory, but that he sees himself as a $1.05 chance.

We’ll confine ourselves here to sport. There, it is a matter of following the money. If you bet on sport, some part of your wager goes to a television network in the form of advertising revenue, then on to a sporting body as vast rights fees. If you play the pokies at a club venue, the profits go directly to the club and form a major and growing part of their incomes (but not at North Melbourne). Downstream, this leads to social dysfunction estimated by some to be as endemic as the legacy of alcohol abuse.

But this is the gift horse everyone makes sure keeps its mouth shut.

Sports bodies make vague noises about social commitment and their dedication to developing other forms of income, all the while collecting more and more of this guaranteed jackpot. Just this week, it emerged that Collingwood had promised renovations to a pokies pub it owns in Ringwood, but only if it was allowed to install 10 more machines. Bookies are no better: they preach responsible gambling, but pay fast-moving lip service to it in almost comical disclaimers at the end of ads, small print in smaller voices.

The least but most obvious effect of all this calculated conditioning is to the amenity of the sports fan. Whether on television or at the ground, the bookies and their spiel are in your face: in ads, on an expert panel, on the scoreboard, in the call. Briefly, even the industry realised that they were giving people the irrits, and pulled their heads in, but only a little. This is where Xenophon and Wilkie would like to start, by reducing or even banning gambling advertising during sports broadcasts and at venues.

They know the power of the medium, for good and evil. That power was central to successful crusades on smoking and the road toll.

Just this week, it was announced that the AIDS epidemic in Australia was over. That fight began with a spectacularly memorable public education campaign more than 20 years ago. If messaging makes this sort of impact, then so must its absence. The Australian Wagering Council knows this. Its defence of the status quo is that betting advertising can be a force for good, directing punters to Australian providers rather than those nasty off-shore outfits.

Political will is negligible. In the election campaign, gambling reform was a non-issue, not mentioned by Labor or the Coalition and rarely even by the Greens, who have the most stringent policy.

The many schisms in the new Parliament offer hope for Xenophon and Wilkie, but only if one of the major parties warms to their objective, which seems unlikely. Otherwise, they might as well try fence in the industry with fly swats. They won’t surrender, but the bookies would say that you can have $10 the pollies, with the margin set at 80 points of order.

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/gambling-reform-dont-bet-on-it-20160715-gq6rxh.html

Yet another story of sports betting companies preying on someone with a gambling addiction.  The other story I read recently was about a sports betting agency lending someone with an intellectual disability $80 000 (which he didn’t ask for), which he subsequently lost, and they then wanted him to sell his family house to pay for the debt.  That story can be found here:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/archive/money/lost-in-a-loophole-over-betting/story-fngu4es9-1227588868614

The quicker these laws are changed the better so people who do have a gambling problem won’t be taken advantage of.

Beaner

Problem gambler, counsellors call for online betting credit crackdown; Senate to consider tougher laws

By Kaitlyn Sawrey, Claire Aird, Jo Lauder, Stephen Stockwell for Hack (Triple J)

On Melbourne Cup day, Anthony received calls and texts offering him almost $10,000 in gambling credit, trying to induce him to reopen the sports betting accounts that cost him his business, friends and family.

His life slid out of control in 2013.

“I was given about $980,000 in credit to bet with companies, and of course I lost all that, because I was a compulsive gambler,” he told triple j’s Hack.

By September this year, he had bet a “totally ridiculous” sum of around $2.5 million.

Online gambling lenders are not held to the same standard as credit companies because they do not charge any fees or interest, which triggers lending regulations.

A recent report from Financial Counselling Australia chronicled the gambling industry’s practices of handing out credit and inducements.

The report title Duds, Mugs and the A-list was based on a quote from a former employee of a sports betting company.

“‘A-List’ customers are wined and dined and offered credit ranging from $100,000-$500,000,” the report said.

“‘B list’ customers are ‘serious credit punters’ and are offered up to $20,000 in credit. The ‘duds’ or ‘mugs’ are everyone else: this group is offered $200-$500 of unsolicited credit.”

‘Dedicated relationship guy’ keep in contact with gamblers

Anthony said it started out with bookies offering free bets and match deposits, but “what you don’t know is that once you’ve opened an account … very quickly they can tell whether you’re going to turn into a VIP — a very big loser. And you’re a lot of money to them, a good income source”.

He said once he passed a certain threshold — $500 in free bets, matched by his own $500 — then it was “game on”.

“They’ll go to any lengths to include you and give you options in things. Probably more so than your real friends probably would do.” Anthony

“They’ll come at you thick and fast. They will have a dedicated person who will ring you and look after and email you,” Anthony said.

“This person will offer you free sporting event tickets, free sport deposits, free bets for absolutely no reason. They’ll find out what you like to do in your leisure time. They will become your best friend basically.”

Anthony, a golf and rugby lover, was offered free tickets to events.

“You feel really important because you’re one of eight people sitting in a box at a sporting event,” he said.

“They’ll go to any lengths to include you and give you options in things. Probably more so than your real friends probably would do.”

He said at one point he had six or seven of these “relationship guys ringing me and chatting me”.

Anthony also had unsolicited calls from other companies offering up to $20,000 in credit.

“I used to say — where did you get my information from? How do you know who I am? And they would say, ‘a friend of a friend told me’.”

 

Companies penalised for breaching gambling laws

Financial Counselling Australia’s report into the industry claimed a “former employee [told us] sports betting companies swap customer account data, contrary to privacy legislation”.

“When a gambler ‘goes cold’ and stops betting with one company, the company swaps lists with another company, which then entices the person to resume gambling,” the report said.

Offering unsolicited credit is outlawed in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, but it is not consistent across the country.

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing told Hack it was investigating a number of operators, but could not go into detail.

However, they said Sportsbetting.com.au — which is licensed in the Northern Territory — pleaded guilty in Sydney’s Downing Centre Court in September to publishing an ad on its website offering 100 per cent bonuses to new clients who deposited funds into betting accounts.

The offer did not exclude NSW residents. The company was fined $1,650.

Penrith-based company ClassicBet Pty Ltd was also convicted of illegal gambling advertising just days before, after it published an ad for a “Premium Rewards Program”, promising punters would be “rewarded for every bet you place, regardless whether you win or lose” and offering bonus bets and “rewards” including shopping vouchers, sports tickets and holidays.

ClassicBet was fined $1,000.

 

Loans by betting companies ‘increases impulse betting’

Lauren Levin, manager of policy and strategic projects at Financial Counselling Australia, said the Northern Territory has the least restrictive legislation.

“Inducements are legal, and surprise, surprise, that’s where most of the companies are licensed,” she said.

“If [loans are] offered online by the provider, it makes it much easier for impulse betting, for chasing your losses.” Senator Nick Xenophon

When Hack contacted the Australian Wagering Council, they declined an interview. They said from the beginning of November, all wagering service providers in the Northern Territory were required to comply with a code of practice.

And also that “any call for the prohibition of deferred settlement facilities would result in customers accessing credit from unscrupulous operators like illegal SP bookmakers and loan sharks and illegal offshore operators, who have little regard for consumer protection or harm minimisation [sic]”.

South Australian senator and anti-gambling advocate Nick Xenophon disagreed that clamping down on the industry would push punters towards dodgy lenders.

“If it’s offered online by the provider, it makes it much easier for impulse betting, for chasing your losses,” he said.

“If you have to go and borrow money, take out a loan — it doesn’t allow the fuelling of the gambling addiction.”

 

‘Legislation has to change’

Next week, Senator Xenophon will introduce a bill to amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which would allow punters to self-exclude from online wagering services, set limits on monthly and yearly betting budgets and ban gambling advertisements during G-rated TV programs and sports broadcasts.

“It’s not just a question about ethics,” Senator Xenophon said, “it’s about… whether it should be legal. I don’t think it should be”.

“You can’t have credit if you go to a pokies outlet — that’s illegal. But it seems to be legal if it’s online gambling and that’s wrong. If you don’t have the money to gamble in the first place, why should you have access to credit?

“There’s going to be a whole generation of young Australians who won’t be able to afford to go on that overseas trip, or buy their first car or put a deposit on their first home.”

Anthony said he wanted to see legislation enacted that would stop others falling into the financial hole he did.

“When you’re left with nothing — I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about the love of family and friends gone – I mean, you go into a pretty dark place,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard to see your way out, you think you’re the only person in the world — how could I be so stupid?

“But you’ve got a disease of addiction. Legislation has to change to protect those who fall into that addictive pattern.”

Senator Xenophon said if the bill was not successful, people could expect to hear more from him in the lead-up to the next election.

“We’re already the number one country in the world in terms of losses, we’re number one in the world in terms of problem gambling,” he said.

“This needs to be an election issue.”

If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, there is always someone you can talk to on 1800 858 858. If you don’t feel like picking up the phone, you can chat to someone online here.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-04/problem-gambler-counsellors-call-for-online-betting-credit/6913036

It is sad to see that governments in some states and territories are making it easy for people with gambling addictions to blow their money.  The gambling industry was opposed to the reforms of the previous Gillard government, and now that the LNP are in charge, those reforms are all but gone or being ignored as problem gamblers are once again encouraged to spend their money on poker machines and the TAB in venues, pubs and clubs.  The power of the gambling industry is making this possible, where they have made large donations to governments at state and federal levels to win government support, where in return the government takes no action on recommended reforms and guidelines to help problem gamblers and people with gambling addictions as the increase in gambling revenue equates to an increase in their tax revenue.  This article poses the pertinent question; if Australians spend more per head on gambling than any other country, why are governments encouraging further growth of a harmful industry?  And the simple answer is that governments are themselves addicted and reliant on the tax generated from the gambling industry, to the point where the cost of reforms and restrictions to help problem gamblers outweighs their need to generate revenue from this insidious source.

Gambling pays off … for Australian governments

By Mike Steketee

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-17/steketee-gambling-pays-off-for-australian-governments/6625170

State and territory governments increasingly rely on gambling tax for revenue, which helps explain why Australia is currently going backwards on the issue despite clear evidence of a public health threat, writes Mike Steketee.

Two weeks ago, the Baird Government in NSW introduced changes to make life easier for serious poker machine players. That is part of a trend, with governments in Canberra, Queensland and the Northern Territory going down the same path. After its comprehensive demolition of the Gillard government’s reforms to tackle problem gambling, the gambling industry has pressed home its advantage by extracting further concessions to increase its profits, guarantee its further expansion, and increase the misery of the estimated 115,000 mainly low-income Australians with a serious gambling addiction – one mostly caused by the pokies. However, there are signs of pushback.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has been formed to co-ordinate the activities of church and community groups who speak for the 70 per cent of Australians who said in 2011 that gambling should be more tightly controlled. Separately, Neil Lawrence, the ad man who created the Kevin 07 campaign, has left a significant legacy after his sudden death this week in the Maldives: a powerful documentary, scheduled to be shown on the ABC, revealing how pokies are specifically engineered to encourage addiction. In the meantime, as a result of the most recent changes, gamblers in NSW clubs can now store $5,000 in an account or a smart card – a 25-fold increase from the previous standard limit of $200. As well, they can receive up to $5,000 of their winnings in cash, whereas previously amounts over $2,000 had to be paid by cheque or electronic funds transfer.

Monash University’s Charles Livingstone, an authority on gambling issues, says it is hard to fathom why a player would want $5,000 so readily at hand unless they had a very serious issue with poker machine gambling. He describes the other measure – raising the threshold for cheques or EFT to $5,000 – as “a recipe to ensure that problem gamblers … simply pour their winnings back into the machine ASAP”. But wait, that’s not all. In what the government argues is a counter-balance, there is a reduction from $10,000 to $7,500 in the maximum amount pokie players can insert and store in machines and an increase from three to six months in the minimum period problem gamblers can ban themselves from venues. If that looks like tokenism, that is because it is. Livingstone told me that the reduction from $10,000 to $7,500 is meaningless: This is supposed to be a harmless entertainment. Why on earth would you need to put $7,500 in a poker machine in a club or pub if it were genuinely merely harmless fun?

The only impact of this is to make money laundering slightly more difficult, but only slightly. He describes self-exclusion as a useful strategy for a small number of people, but says it is far more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The changes stem from a pre-election commitment by the NSW Liberals and Nationals to secure the support of Clubs NSW, the most powerful part of the lobby that mounted an expensive campaign to torpedo the Gillard government’s plans for gambling reform. The measures are spelled out in a memorandum of understanding that also includes a promise to “retain existing gaming machine operating conditions”, with any proposals for change requiring “rigorous assessment” and consultation. In other words, don’t dare lift a finger without telling us or we’ll hit you with another campaign. Needless to say, the public were not party to this agreement. There are some common themes in the backsliding by governments.

In Queensland, the Newman government also changed the rules to allow winnings of up to $5,000 to be paid in cash. Previously, jackpots could only be paid out by cheque and the cheque could not be cashed at the gambling venue for at least 24 hours – tougher rules than those that used to apply in NSW. Like the Baird Government, the Newman government justified this and a raft of other changes in the name of reducing red tape. Livingstone and his Monash University colleague Louise Francis had a different explanation in a report last year commissioned by the Anglican Church: This is clearly in the interests of EGM [electronic gaming machine or poker machine] venue operators and against the interests of people experiencing issues with gambling… In our opinion, this is a wholly detrimental measure that cannot be justified on ‘red tape reduction’ principles. Instead it appears intended to increase the likelihood that EGM users, especially problem gamblers who win substantial amounts, will, in all likelihood, lose those funds at the same venue.

The Queensland changes also increase the number of poker machines allowed under a club licence from 280 to 500, with a maximum of 300 at one venue. Livingstone and Francis said the likely effect would be to increase the average size of venues with poker machines and that it was well established that larger establishments generated more revenue per machine. “There is significant potential for exacerbating gambling related harm in vulnerable communities as a result of increasing allowable machine numbers in venues,” they said.

Last December, the Northern Territory Government announced an increase in the number of poker machines allowed in hotels from 10 to 20 and in clubs from 45 to 55. What of the $150,000 donation by the Australian Hotels Association to the governing Country Liberal Party before the last election? We have the word of Gaming Minister Peter Styles that it did not influence the Government’s decision. These measures are on top of the Abbott Government’s repeal last year, with Labor’s support, of the few measures that survived the onslaught from the clubs on the Gillard government.

They included limits on withdrawals from ATMs, the installation of so-called pre-commitment technology on replacement poker machines so as to allow players to nominate beforehand the maximum amount they were prepared to lose, and a trial of a mandatory pre-commitment scheme. Together, these decisions represent a big step in the wrong direction at a time when studies by the Productivity Commission and others have confronted us with the reality of problem gambling – bankruptcies, family break-ups, crime and suicide. Addiction to gambling is as much a public health issue as smoking or drug addiction. What governments have done is akin to re-introducing smoking in restaurants and bars.

Total gambling expenditure per head in Australia grew after inflation from $577 in 1986-87 to $1,179 in 2011-12. That meant total gambling losses of $20.5 billion in 2011-12, 84 per cent of it on gaming, with the rest on racing and sports betting. Considering Australians spend more per head on gambling than any other country, why are governments encouraging further growth of a harmful industry? Because government policy on gambling is compromised on multiple fronts. State and territory governments increasingly have relied on it for revenue, with their takings almost doubling after inflation to $5.5 billion in the 25 years to 2011-12.

With the growth of the industry has come the increase in the power of the clubs and hotel lobbies, and that power has included making political donations. In the Northern Territory, the Australian Hotels Association gave the same amount – $150,000 – to the Labor Party before the last election as to the Country Liberal Party. The last time there were meaningful measures to control gambling was in Victoria more than five years ago. They included a $5 maximum bet – a change Livingstone says was introduced without industry opposition. He adds that a $1 maximum would reduce the harmful effects of gambling, given that 80 per cent of problem gambling stems from poker machines. Among the politicians, only independents like Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie are prepared these days to stand up to the gambling lobby.

Wilkie put a bill for $1 bets, among other measures, before Parliament last November but the Abbott Government refused to allow it to come up for debate. Xenophon plans to introduce into the spring session of Parliament a bill to apply restrictions to online gambling. This is emerging as a threat, even while the much larger one from poker machines remains to be tackled.

I remember reading these articles about a month ago, and was thinking about it again on the weekend with the bye in the AFL, as Richmond weren’t playing.  Many young men are struggling with gambling addiction, and the young men playing AFL are not exempt from the same attraction to sports betting and gambling or the associated problems.  With the amount of money they earn allowing for excessive disposable income, combined with too much spare time and the sports betting environment that surrounds the AFL, it is little wonder there are players who end up becoming addicted to gambling whilst trying to forge a career in the AFL.  With about 800 AFL players in the system across 18 clubs, there are 30 players with known serious gambling problems, which accounts for 3.75% of all the players, or an average of nearly 2 players a club.

The hidden danger in this issue is that an AFL player in debt and desperate for cash could influence the result of a game or a bet type in their favour.  And to think that the AFL would be exempt from this type of behaviour would be naive in the face of what Hansie Cronje and many other professional cricketers have done in the past.

Beaner

Reformed addict David Schwarz warns of major gambling problem in AFL

Tuesday 5 May 2015 – AAP

Former AFL star and high-profile reformed gambling addict David Schwarz wants government action on betting adverts, warning of a rapidly-growing problem among AFL players.

He has spoken to about 30 current players with serious gambling issues. Schwarz blew about $5 million because of gambling, but has not laid a bet for a decade. The former Demons key forward will soon front a revamped AFL program that aims to help players who are problem gamblers.

“I absolutely agree there is far too much advertising,” he told SEN. “But while it’s here and while it’s not legislated against, we have to deal with it as best we can. What we have to do is put pressure on governments to minimise advertising to the appropriate times, so the kids aren’t as influenced.”

Schwarz added that it would be counter-productive to put too many legal curbs on gambling. He said 99% of people gambled responsibly and it remains an individual choice.

“I understand that the gambling ads make up a big percentage of SEN, they make up a big percentage of the AFL,” he said. “But the last thing we want to do is drive betting underground. We need to have it regulated, so we can keep on top of irregular betting patterns.”

Schwarz said a key for the growing betting problem among AFL players is to drum the message into them right from when they join the TAC Cup Under-18 competition.

“When they get into the system, players need to understand the pitfalls – understand the things that can go wrong and how quickly it can escalate,” Schwarz told SEN. “It’s a really funny one, gambling, and people go ‘why don’t you just stop?’.

“But you can’t smell it, you can’t see it – it’s a little hidden thing that sneaks up on a lot of people. The last couple of years in particular, the increase of players and player managers and clubs, who are needing help and advice on how to help their players out, has been a real concern.”

Schwarz said it is no surprise that gambling would be an issue among AFL players. “These are young men who hit the key demographic for a lot of the problems out there,” he said.

“Many of them are young, single, they earn good money, they have a lot of spare time. So if you were to put together the perfect specimen for someone who might fall into a bit of strife, professional athletes hit the category most. They’re risk takers, they’re adrenaline junkies, they like the thrill.”

But he added that if problem gamblers receive the right help, they can stop. Schwarz said it was probably easier for AFL players to stop gambling, because they had club support around them.

“We have some great stories – players who have been right on the depths of despair,” he said. “Their financial position was in dire straits and they’ve turned it all around. They’ve turned it around really quickly.”

AFL players blowing thousands amid gambling epidemic labelled footy’s ‘hidden problem’

Mark Robinson – Herald Sun, May 05, 2015

A PUNTING epidemic has gripped the ranks of AFL players.

David Schwarz, a reformed gambling addict, who will front the AFL’s revamped gambling program, says he has talked to up to 30 current players with major gambling problems.

Horse racing and multi-bets placed across a range of sports, mostly American, are the biggest attraction.

The Herald Sun has learned of:

A PLAYER who dropped $30,000 in a day betting on horses.

ANOTHER player who lost $40,000 on a Saturday before playing the next day.

Schwarz said last night he had spoken to players who had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s an escalating problem … it’s bordering on being an epidemic,’’ he said.

“I know players who have lost three-quarters of their wages in a month through gambling, which is hundreds of thousands over time.’’

Leading player manager Paul Connors last night said of gambling: “It’s the hidden problem in footy.’’

And an AFL club chief executive, who did not wish to be named, said last night: “After training, the players go home and they are bored and start betting. American sports, that’s what they bet on: the NFL, the NBA.’’

In late March team captains alerted the AFL to the growing crisis, warning gambling was the No.1 problem with players in their spare time.

Some players aren’t afraid to lose up to $100,000 a year gambling, Schwarz says.

But many players don’t inform their clubs or the AFL Players Association because they are scared their names will be made public.

The AFL will shortly announce a new range of measures to help players.

“Ultimately, one player struggling with a gambling problem is one too many,’’ said Andrew Dillon, the AFL’s general counsel.

“David Schwarz has approached the AFL and put forward a proposal for a progressive gambling support program for players and the wider AFL community that is under consideration.”

Schwarz said growing numbers of players were contacting him for help each season.

“It affects their football,’’ he said.

“I’ve spoken to a number of clubs, a number of players and player managers, and they believe it’s the biggest problem with the players.

“It varies from managers who are concerned about their player, to players who are fully blown problem gamblers.

“They are on the verge of losing everything, or have hit a point where they will never recover,” Schwarz said.

“They will walk out of the game without having accumulated anything, and they have been in the system for eight to 10 years.

“The mindset is, they believe they are going to earn big money, so if they lose $100,000 in a year it’s not a big deal.

“Some managers take full control of their money and give them an allowance each week,’’ Schwarz said.

It is interesting to think that it was actually illegal to bet on sports in Australia for a big part of our history.  Betting in the 19th Century was common on sports such as boxing and athletics, then in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century there was a broad campaign against gambling, and widespread bans on sports betting were imposed around Australia, which remained in place until the 1970s.

During the 70s, sports betting restrictions were slowly relaxed.  TABs experimented with betting options on sports events, including the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and one-day cricket matches from the World Series of Cricket, but this did not prove popular.

On-course bookies were then given freedom to take bets on Aussie Rules Football games, and the TAB also introduced Footy TAB.  Again, the small winning pools and limited betting options failed to capture the interest of the serious punter, who continued to be keener on placing large bets with SP bookies (‘Starting Price’ bookies, who were often unlicensed).

Sports betting started to grow in the 1990s when the government approved sports betting agencies to start operating out of Darwin in the Northern Territory.  By 2000 TABs and bookmakers were taking bets on numerous sports in all states and territories.  While sports betting in 1999 accounted for only 0.2% of total Australian gambling expenditure, it has grown significantly in the years since with the introduction of on-line and mobile betting, aggressive advertising campaigns and an influx of overseas sports betting agencies into the Australian gambling market.

In March 2008, with James Packer’s Crown Limited bankrolling it, Betfair won a unanimous High Court decision which deemed it unconstitutional to prohibit bookmakers from advertising in one state and operating in another. Betstar’s Alan Eskander claimed it was the most important thing to happen in 150 years of bookmaking in Australia.  Advertising has grown enormously since then, where the main agencies now have a major presence on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.  Many of the biggest sports bet companies also directly sponsor sports codes and teams, and their advertising is visible on the team’s websites, sporting grounds and scoreboards all across the country.

The following is a list of some of the Australian sports betting agencies and their relationship with sporting codes and clubs around Australia:

TAB Sportsbet is official partners with the AFL and the FFA.

Sportsbet is the official partner of the Newcastle Knights, Sydney Roosters and Collingwood football club, and is the approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and Rugby Australia.

IASbet.com is the approved betting partner of AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and Rugby Australia.

Sportingbet is an approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and the V8 Supercars, and is a proud sponsor of the Carlton Football club and the Brisbane Broncos.

Betfair is the approved betting operator of Cricket Australia, AFL, NRL, ARL, PGA tour Australasia, the FFA, Australian rugby and tennis Australia.

Centrebet are the proud sponsors of the St Kilda football club, the Manly Sea Eagles, the Penrith Panthers, the St George Illawarra Dragons, and they are the approved betting partners of the NRL, AFL, cricket Australia, tennis Australian and the PGA tour.

Tom Waterhouse is an approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, and Australian rugby.

Unibet is an approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, PGA Australia and Australian rugby.

Luxbet proudly supports the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Cronulla Sharks, and is an approved sports betting operator of the NRL, AFL, tennis Australia, PGA golf and cricket Australia.

Bet365 don’t appear to have a relationship with any sporting code or club as yet.

A 2011 gambling report in the Economist indicated that, on average, every adult Australian loses just under $1300 per year. As a nation, we drop $22 billion per year on the punt, nearly five times what we spend on foreign aid. Furthermore, it was estimated that the revenue generated by sports betting in Australia would top $600 million by the end of 2011, up from $264 million in 2006. It is estimated that the sports betting share of the Australian gambling industry is growing annually at 24 times the rate of horseracing.

In Victoria alone, total gambling losses were estimated at $5.49 billion in 2011-12, which equates to just over $15 million a day. $2.49 billion of this was spent on poker machines, which means $3 billion dollars was spent in Victoria on other types of betting like horse racing and sports betting, which is just over $8.2 million dollars a day.

On the 1st August 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that sports bet operators could no longer promote live odds during sporting events, although normal sports betting ads could still be shown during the breaks.  This was no doubt in response to the uproar caused by bookmaker Tom Waterhouse’s efforts in sponsoring the NRL and Channel 9 in 2013 (for a reported $50 million over 5 years) and actively spruiking live odds during the NRL games back in March 2013 as one of the expert commentary team.  The NRL walked away from the deal after the controversy it caused, although they deny that the deal fell through due to the public backlash caused by Tom Waterhouse’s presence in the commentary box.

It is easy to see how much the sports betting industry has grown in Australia in recent years when you look at how many sports betting options there are now available to the punter, along with what markets you can actually bet on.

On Sportsbet, there are 30 different sports/ events you can bet on, and for the 2013 AFL Grand Final this weekend between Hawthorn and Fremantle there are 238 Markets.  238 different betting options for one game!

Along with the numerous sports and games like poker, most sports bet bookies also now take bets on pretty much any other event with an unknown outcome.  These are the Novelty markets for Sportsbet on 26th September 2013 (these are no joke):

Current Affairs Pope betting (who will be the next Pope after Francis I), Airport betting (the location of Melbourne’s 3rd airport, which airport will get approved next between Sydney and Melbourne, when the 2nd Brisbane airport will open), who will be the next permanent CEO of the NBN Co, when the Melbourne Star Wheel will be officially opened, which city will host the 2020 World Expo, which will be the first country to leave the European union, what the Apple share price will be at the end of the year, who will win the 2013 Noble Peace prize, who will be cast to play Edward Snowden in the film about the NSA whistle blower, what the starting price (in US dollars) for Twitter will be on the NASDAQ, and by what means Julian Assange will leave the Ecuadorian embassy.

Entertainment there are markets on Australian TV for the winner of Big Brother, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Australia’s Got Talent, X Factor, and which character will be killed off next in the TV show Offspring.

Financial what the new official interest rate will be when announced by the RBA on 1st October 2013.

Hollywood who will play the next James Bond, the main Academy Awards winners, who will play Berlusconi in the movie about him, and how much Wolf Creek 2 will make at the Australian box office in the opening weekend.

Music who will win the 2013 Mercury music prize, who will be the next artist to remove their music from Spotify, who will be the next Australian to sell 1 million copies of a single in the US, and who will be the first to leave One Direction.

Novelty Bets how many PS4s will sell in the first 10 days, there are 5 royal specials (baby George’s first words, sex of their 2nd child, name of the 2nd child, when the baby will be born, and who the next monarch will be), which country will have first contact with alien life, when will Shane Warne and Liz Hurley get married, what Dave Hughes next TV role/ job will be, and what the name of Simon Cowell’s baby will be.

Pageants Miss World winner

Politics there are 13 different markets for Australian and world politics, ranging from who will lead the Labour party to when same sex marriage will be introduced in Australia.

Sports Novelties who will be the 2013 BBC sports personality of the year, will QLD win 10 State of Origins in a row, who will win the South Pole Challenge, and which A-League club will have the most Twitter followers.

Weather 2013 Global Average Temperature anomaly.

Now the first thing that springs to my mind with these betting types is that for some of the markets, the outcomes will probably be known by someone before it is officially announced, and the fact that you can bet on it leaves it wide open for manipulation or corruption. And corruption in sports due to sports betting has been, and is going to be, an ongoing issue in all sports world wide.

Australians have almost forgotten that Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were caught up in a bookmaking scandal in India, and Hansie Cronje who was captain of South Africa was fixing matches and then later died plane crash, where there are suspicions he was murdered.

The most recent revelation of corruption in Australian sport was during September 2013 in the Victorian Premier League soccer, where police arrested 10 people associated with the Southern Stars Football Club, nine players and the coach, for their involvement in match fixing worth around $2 million dollars.

Australia sees itself as an honest country, but the mix of money and sport and greed has always allowed for sport to be compromised, and with sports betting becoming so widespread and commonplace in Australia, it seems likely that the VPL incident will not be the last of its kind in this country.

Beaner

References

Costello T & Millar R, Wanna Bet?, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, 2000.

http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2011/november/1320384446/jonathan-horn/caught-game

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-01/restrictions-on-broadcasting-of-live-betting-odds-now-in-place/4857242

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-20/nrl-fails-to-agree-with-waterhouse-over-sponsorship-deal/4699252