Thu, Apr 25, 5:00am by Kevin Pitstock
Bookmaker Tom Waterhouse’s on-air TV commentary last month during a rugby broadcast last month continue to produce fallout. In the latest news, a Free TV Australia has proposed a ban on all advertisements promoting live odds during games to be prohibited. Not only would the ban on posting odds cover live games, but also the broadcast time both 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after those broadcasts.
Free TV Australia decided to post their proposal on their online site, hoping to draw reactions and comments from potential viewers. The proposal is open for comments on the official website until May 20, 2013.
The National Rugby League admitted they had received numerous complaints from viewers after Tom Waterhouse, a 30-year old bookmaker, appeared on broadcasts to discuss match odds, while offering his thoughts on play. In many people’s eyes, the commentary blurred the line between sports broadcasting and promotion of a gambling lifestyle.
Professional sports and the gambling industry have long shared a complicated relationship. While newspapers have long placed the odds of games in their sports pages next to news, recaps, statistics, and standings, the publishers of said papers suggested these were for entertainment purposes only. Many readers have never seen much of a line between promoting sports and promoting gambling in those situations.
Another case of the symbiotic relationship between pro sports and bookmakers came earlier this year in the NBA schedule. To avoid a fourth game in five nights, San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich sent starters Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Manu Ginobli home prior to a road game versus the World Champion Miami Heat.
Fans in Miami complained the Spurs had sabotaged their enjoyment of the game by putting an inferior product on the court. Despite the game being competitive, NBA Commissioner David Stern fined the Spurs US$250,000 for their decision, citing that the league was not told in time to take a nationally televised game off the schedule.
The unspoken criticism by Stern was the move also ruined the betting odds, because punters who bet on the Spurs were robbed of their chances, because the Spurs’ starting line-up didn’t play. In the end, the Spurs covered the spread with a 5-point loss. The game was tied at 100-100 with 22 seconds remaining, but it also shows how gambling and sports are interconnected, however loathe organizers are to admit that fact.
Most professional leagues worldwide seek to keep the gambling industry at an arm’s length. That’s why the NRL broadcasts featuring Tom Waterhouse crossed the line: they broke an unspoken rule that leagues don’t acknowledge how closely related their games are intertwined with bookmaking.
The indiscretion might cause changes to be made to future NRL broadcasts. Fans interested in influencing that decision apparently are being given an opportunity to voice their opinion, so they should give a look at the NRL website and discuss their views on bookmaker advertisements in sports broadcasts.
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