Australian Sports Leagues Lobby for TV Betting

2 July 2004

The Australian Soccer Association joined forces with cricket and Aussie rules football representatives this week to lobby the government for the lifting of a ban on digital TV betting. The leagues are asking the government to extend an exemption for horse racing to also include sports betting.

Australian Soccer Association Chief Executive John O'Neill said the leagues' united effort should help them get a "slice of the action" they're missing because of the ban.

"We flirted with this a couple of years ago, but now there are moves afoot with a united (front of) sports bodies, cricket, AFL. . . the whole lot," O'Neill told the Australian Press Association.

The sports leagues wouldn't be the only entities to benefit. BSkyB, the British broadcasting giant owned by Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, offers live betting in England accessible using a remote control. Punters in Australia can't take part in such a service with the TV betting ban in place, but that would change if sports betting gains an exemption. If that happens, and the government also lifts its ban on in-game betting, TV betting could be a big business.

David Leckie, chief executive of broadcaster Seven Networks, feels the addition of sports betting on interactive TV in Australia could provide a boost to digital service providers.

"People don't really want to be interrupted when they are watching a game live," Leckie said, "but for something like betting they might."

While O'Neill is hopeful that iTV sports betting will receive an exemption, some industry insiders are now saying the federal Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) will not be amended. The government's official review of the law is long overdue, and some believe official word will never come. One theory is that there won't be any big decision regarding the IGA because of pending elections. Add the merger of Tabcorp and Tab Ltd. (which will essentially silence some of the leading opponents of betting exchanges and eliminate a lot of political support for Tab Ltd.) to the mix and there will be less pressure for the government to move forward with new policy.

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at