It's happening more and more often - live betting odds being offered by online betting agencies in local sport leagues. It's happened in Canberra soccer football leagues and in Victorian gridiron competitions. Think it can’t happen to your sport or in your local area? Think again.
Australia is a nation of gamblers. Per capita we lose more money to gambling than any other nation in the world. That makes us a magnet for betting agencies looking for new ways to separate punters and their money. So, what’s wrong with placing a bet on a local league game? What harm can it do and is there any benefit in it for grassroots clubs?
Most forms of gambling are legal in Australia and regulation of the industry rests largely with the states and territories. It’s a complex set of laws that varies between jurisdictions and it’s opened the way for a poorly-regulated industry to thrive. Now, thanks to the internet, sports gambling is borderless and largely beyond the control of governments anywhere.
In short, if an online betting agency wants to offer odds on a local amateur sporting fixture there is very little any government can do about it and the club or clubs concerned don’t need to be informed.
A blanket ban on non-professional sport gambling may seem like a simple and effective solution, but there are many who claim this would create more problems than it would solve. They argue that:
Most of the arguments in the ‘no’ camp focus on the harmful effects of gambling, already evident in our community:
So, where do you stand? What about your club? What would you do if a betting agency started offering odds on your club’s matches? What if they offered a lucrative sponsorship deal?
The first thing any club should do is have a serious discussion about the issue and decide on a policy. Consult your national sporting organisation to determine their position and talk to your members to find out what they think. There are a few clubs and leagues who are already dealing with the issue. Do your research, contact them and ask questions.
If you are against gambling in amateur sports or fearful that it could ruin the integrity of your sport, don’t just hold out for legislative change because that may take a while. For the moment we have to rely on the integrity of local players and officials to keep sport fair. There are some things your club can do to encourage fair play, including:
Here are some links that may help in your research of this complicated, but important issue: