Editorial Pages

April 2003

Betting exchange hysteria.

Recently one of our AFL football clients posted the following link to our AFL Insiders Forum.

Betfair faces millions in fines after content ruled illegal

It links to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald online, by Craig Young, which breathlessly reports the imminent ejection of evil betting exchanges from the Australian market as scripted by the vested interests who currently dominate gambling revenues in this country.

Unfortunately for those interests and the scribes who pander to them, punters are not inclined to be easily convinced that market competition and better value for them is a bad thing. As the saying goes, 'you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time'.

The feedback on the article came thick and fast from grass roots punters. First shot fired was from 'Tony M', a professional punter contracted by OZmium to provide information on tennis betting.

"I'm glad it was published on April Fools Day.

What a joke, yet another example of media interests protecting the hands that feed them.

A couple of comments:

"It is illegal for Australian punters to bet with Betfair, which is a licensed betting firm in the United Kingdom."

It is not. NSW has draconian legislation to protect their revenues from the TAB, other states do not. I'm not sure, but has anybody been charged under their legislation?

"First or last, they never lose: Betfair - how it works"

How about "first or last they never lose: TABs and how they work" with their 15%+ takes? 5% versus 15%+, ummm... let me think about it.

"a respected racing identity who asked the Herald not to be named"

Let's guess - a backward bookmaker who is yet to move into the technology age? Respected by whom?

"The High Court of Australia decision in the Dow Jones v Gutnick decision is simple - something is published where it is read."

In my book I'm not reading content I'm using a service.

"Using true probability mathematics, a punter having 100 $50 bets on a $5 chance generates turnover of $5,000 and will break square."

Not if you use the TAB. Mathematics says you will get $4,250 back of which $244 goes to the racing industry (if their figures are accurate). What happened to the other $506?

"Betfair provides no monetary returns to the Australian racing industry."

But they are willing to. Just read the comments before.

Articles like this make my blood boil. In just about every single industry I know there is a level playing field and competition breeds cheaper prices, better service etc. Not in the world of bookmaking, totalizator running and poker machines, their answer is to stamp out any innovative competition and with the media and politicians on side they generally win.

I might just have to complain to Alan Fels! Sorry I'm on my high horse but I have a serious problem with this sort of media.

Just a quick point to add.

The "Interactive Gambling Act 2001" states

(3) For the purposes of this Act, none of the following services is a prohibited Internet gambling service:
(aa) an excluded wagering service (see section 8A);

Section 8A says

8A Excluded wagering service
(1) For the purposes of this Act, an excluded wagering service is:
(a) a service to the extent to which it relates to betting on, or on a
series of, any or all of the following:
(i) a horse race;
(ii) a harness race;
(iii) a greyhound race;
(iv) a sporting event;

Let them stick that in their pipe and smoke it!"

OZmium's Director of Racing Services Neil Davis weighed in with the following blast at uncompetitive racing markets.

"Bookies can lose - particularly in metropolitan Sydney. But it's hard to imagine Adelaide and Brisbane bookies ever losing with their markets of 130% or more. They're a disgrace!

Trots and dogs bookies etc shouldn't even bother operating - legalised rip-offs of 150% or whatever.

What about the TABs?

1. A payout of 59.9 cents for 50 cents is rounded down to 55 cents and a dividend of $1.10 is declared instead of $1.20. You've been short changed 50% of your profit! It's illegal for any other business to round these payments to always favour themselves. Eg. advertise something at 51 cents and charge 55 cents.

2. Taking your money on a bet that can lose but cannot win. Eg. They will return $1.00 money back should you be lucky enough to win, but take your money if your bet loses."

We have other letters on this issue, including a defence of his comments as quoted in the Craig Young article from Tim Ryan of the Australian Bookmakers' Association Internet betting committee.

Ryan's letter and others on the topic can be found in our Articles section


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