According to the latest national survey, the Australian Football League (AFL), is under heavy criticism for maintaining ties ‘too close for comfort’ with the country’s bookmakers.
Twenty of the biggest bookmakers pay 5% of their profits generated from AFL events directly to the league and 90% of Victorian clubs are in lucrative sponsorship deals with corporate sportsbooks. Such a close association raises a number of questions about the impartiality of the players, owners, employees, referees and even stadium staff. Fans are beginning to question the overall fairness of the sport and the possibility of exchange of inside information prior to games between the clubs and the bookmakers.
The national survey showed that 37% of fans were worried about the close ties of bookmakers to Australian sports and 75% were concerned about the overall increase in betting on sports in Australia. Most televised games have in-game odds from different bookmakers displayed along with the team and player stats.
Patrick Keane, an AFL spokesman, explained that the close relationship with bookmakers makes it easier for the league to quickly compare any unusual plays with betting patters to quickly uncover if players or referees.
Keane went on to say: “All players, coaches and officials do not bet on matches and this is a central part of our integrity rules to ensure that all matches are conducted to the best effort of every player and official. The right for wagering outlets to advertise is not controlled by the AFL. Betting is regulated by Australian gambling laws and state and territory governments, and has been in place long before sports organizations reached agreements with bookmakers.”
Online gambling news in Australia shows a similar close relationship also permeates the rugby league. Last summer, a woman tried to place a $5000 bet that North Queensland will score first with a penalty. Normally, even bets of $100 are rare on such high odds in-game events.
The bookmakers became suspicious and refused to accept the bet. Later in the match, a penalty was indeed awarded early but for reasons unknown North Queensland decided to go for a try instead of kicking the goal. Had the goal been made and the bet accepted, the woman stood to win close to $100,000.
On another front, Australia’s battle against the video poker industry continues, with latest polls showing the majority of voters willing to give up the freedom to make gambling choices for themselves and to permit the government to make those choices for them. Please read Australia to Regulate Gambling With Human Behavior Control Devices article for more information.