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Tony Abbott Warns He May Ban Betting Odds from Live Broadcasts

Tue, May 7, 10:23am by Kevin Pitstock

Tony AbbottIn an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times, Tony Abbott said that, if he becomes Australian Prime Minister, he will ban the promotion of betting odds in live broadcasts. Mr. Abbott said the television networks must act before he does.

If the TV networks don’t introduce a voluntary code, he will impose a legal code when he attains power. With the Coalition holding a strong position in the upcoming election in September, Abbott appears ready to make good on his warnings.

Abbott: Level of Advertising Wrecking Sport

In his interview on the subject, Abbott said he felt the level of advertising on televised broadcasts is wrecking sport. Mr. Abbott said he would prefer to see the industry control their own conduct, instead of seeing laws passed with the same or similar effect.

Abbott was careful to say that he considers his party to be against government regulation by nature. “We are natural deregulators, not regulators, but when you’ve got a significant social nuisance I think it’s important for government to at least be prepared to step in .

Says Current Code Not Enough

The leader of the opposition pointed to a recent discussion paper released by the free-to-air networks and stated their measures did not go far enough. The network ban by Seven, Nine, and Ten would affect the broadcast itself, ending the promotion of live odds for the match during the game. The network ban would leave in place the discussion of odds for other sports, including interstate matches. Also, the networks’ proposed solution would allow commercials for bookmakers during half and quarter-time. Mr Abbott says these measures don’t go far enough.

Tony Abbott suggests broadcasts should be about performances, not whether a person can win $10 by guessing who scores the first goal or what the score is at halftime. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, an anti-gambling advocate, claims sports broadcasts should follow the same standards as G-rated broadcasts in Australia. Because of the large number of underage viewers, policies should be devised to allow children to learn about the sport without being exposed to a barrage of gambling advertisements.

Networks Prepare for Change of Power

The television networks are faced with an ultimatum. Political pundits believe the Coalition is likely to win the September elections, so Tony Abbott is set to become the next Prime Minister of Australia. If this happens, the networks have four months to offer an industry-led solution to forestall an initiative by the next national government.

In the last few years, the issue of problem gambling has grown in importance to the people of Australia. The recent appearances on NRL broadcasts by Tom Waterhouse have stirred up public outrage on the gambling debate, so it’s likely Tony Abbott would have the popular support to change broadcast laws.

The Sunday Times interview should be seen as a fair warning to the broadcast networks their current proposals do not go far enough. Industry-crafted policies are likely to be less stringent than those written by lawmakers, so it becomes a matter of the networks making policies strong enough to satisfy politicians and public. Whether they can do so and retain an important source of commercial revenue remains to be seen, but Mr Abbott’s warning appears to narrow their choices.

Our Response

This site supports Abbott’s plan to ban bookmakers from broadcasting odds during live broadcasts. Children watch sports broadcasts, so they should be allowed to learn about the game before they learn about betting. This gambling news and online portal wants responsible gamblers to be informed of the opportunities for live gambling, but also to understand the issues at stake when they put their hard-earned money at risk.

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