Tue, Jun 18, 11:45pm by Kevin Pitstock
The debate not only parallels the live odds debate in Australia earlier this year, but the names of prominent figures in the Australian debate are invoked in the discussion in New Zealand. Top Aussie names being discussed in the talk include Tom Waterhouse, for his role in the NRL controversy, and Julia Gillard, for announcing a ban on ads.
New Zealanders fear the growth of live odds during games, especially after TAB spokesman Mark Stafford appeared on live rugby broadcasts to discuss such bets. Some anti-gambling pundits have even compared the broadcasting of these proposition bets to pokies. The much-discussed addictive quality of poker machines is at the heart of the comparison. Given that some radical anti-gambling spokesmen (in America) have compared pokies to crack cocaine, no more damaging of an analogy could be made in industry debates.
Live odds are provided in New Zealand TV during broadcasts of rugby or football. Instead of a single wager on the outcome of the match, punters can choose to make wagers on specific moments of the game, such as who scores the first goal or try. These proposition bets can take many forms. One might bet on the number of shots on goal, or who scores the first goal. One might bet on whether a team receives a red card. The possibilities are endless, depending on the game being contested.
Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey complains live odds create gambling addicts, but not sports fans. He said, “It’s not about who’s going to win. It’s about will this kick go over, will he drop the ball the next time he touches it. The more instant the response to a bet, the more problematic it can become.”
The instant nature of live odds is the crux of the debate. A gambling addict can only make one wager if he/she bets on the final result of the game. During a live broadcast where odds are being posted on the next set of game factors, the wagering takes on a whole other level of intensity and immediacy.
At the same time, it’s hard to take charges seriously when one compares live odds to poker machines. Even if the addictive qualities were the same, the ability to make wagers at the same pace just isn’t there. Let’s assume you hear about an interesting wager on which player scores the next try.
Even if you decided to make this bet (and several other situational wagers), then return to make more bets later, the rate of betting pales in comparison to the poker machines. A punter can wager on the outcome of pokies spins every 2 to 3 seconds–all day, every day.
Those in the New Zealand gambling industry should expect a repeat of the tactics used in Australia to fashion tougher gambling laws. When a discussion of live odds ensues, anti-gambling advocates will invoke the danger to children watching sports broadcasts at home. It’s an effective strategy, because it has an element of truth to it.
Gambling addiction will be at the forefront of the debate, as horror stories will be cherry-picked to highlight the dangers. Again, these are all legitimate methods of bringing home to the public what is at stake. Yet gambling industry members would be wise to distance their instant betting options from the pokies comparison.
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