Tue, Jun 11, 7:02am by Kevin Pitstock
A published study of the advertising activities of Tom Waterhouse shows the bookmaking website has increased its advertising budget by 340% in the past year. This increase was recorded over the first four months of 2013, compared against the same months in 2012.
The increased advertising budget has made the TomWaterhouse bookmaker site the number one spender in the Australian sports betting market. The company was listed at number three just a year ago.
The money spent by the company vaulted the bookmaking site’s namesake, the controversial Tom Waterhouse, into national news when he began to appear during live NRL broadcasts. While it can’t be said Waterhouse received free publicity, given the fact his bookmaking service paid millions of dollars for his appearances on broadcasts, the resulting media deluge certainly provided more exposure than most would have predicted.
In the first couple of weeks of the 2013 NRL season, the 30 year old bookmaker appeared during action to discuss live odds and game play with the Nine Network broadcast team. This led to a wave of criticism from parents groups and anti-gambling advocates, followed by a wave of politicians ready to be shown taking action during an election year.
Emboldened by the fan reaction, prospective gambling reformers launched a campaign for the banning of live odds, suggesting the NRL broadcasts were targeting underage viewers with insidious references to gambling during play. Lawmakers at various levels of government have since threatened to strike down live odds during broadcasts. This led to the announcement of a ban just last weekend by none other than Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The question on many observers’ minds is whether the Tom Waterhouse spruiking odds on TV was a boon or a bane for his website’s business. One guesses the advertising dollars spent were well worth the name recognition, as an Australian would have to be living in total isolation to have missed the controversy surrounding Tom Waterhouse these past months. In terms of getting his site’s name out there, the money was well spent.
The unfortunate truth is that 340% percent increase in spending has made the bookmaker a lightning rod for controversy and a poster boy for the anti-gambling crusade. Facebook communities now exist dedicated to ousting Tom Waterhouse from television broadcasts, which is only one indication of how turned off NRL viewers were by his appearances on free-to-air television.
All of this played into the hands of the champions of gambling reform, because they could make a good case for sports bet advertising being targeted at Aussie children. This was seen by many as a sign of all that is wrong with the gambling industry in Australia, an opinion held by many despite some degree of irony. While problem gambling has been a lingering issue for years, the biggest lure for addictive gamblers is not sports betting, but pokies.
In fact, sports betting makes up only 2% of the gaming revenue in Australia every year. Yet all the problems gambling might cause has been heaped on the sports punters and the services which cater to their needs, because of the spotlight brought on them by the NRL scandal.
Thus the increase in spending by the Tom Waterhouse bookmaking business can be seen as a one-time splurge, because the ability to broadcast such ads will be gone by 2014. In the end, the outlay of cash is likely to have made “Tom Waterhouse” one of the catchphrases in Australia in 2013, but damaged the Aussie gambling industry as a whole.
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