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07 May 2010

AFL, Sports Betting, Websites, Vice and Budgets, by Greg Tingle - 7th May 2010

The AFL is looking at ways to stay as profitable as possible, work on its image, be a good corporate citizen and cover its ass.

AFL powers that be have quite a balancing act to maintain with "vice" (beers and gambling) being part of the landscape, but online sports betting has facilitated both profits and problems on and off the field. Media Man and Gambling911 don the referee shirt and probe the game, not so much looking for dirt, but searching for answers...

AFL (Australia Football League) remains one of Australia's most recognizable brands, up there with its footy cousin, the NRL (National Rugby League).

Many think the AFL official website resembles more of a sports betting website portal more than that of a footy clubs website these days. The knockers, including the dear purists have a pretty strong case. Maybe the site should have a warning about not betting when drinking, but that would be very difficult to enforce. Did we mention the beer logos and signal on the website is also impossible to miss. We also mistook it for the 'Sin City' expo website...neon lights on steroids... ok, just kidding, but you get the point.

AFL is primary about footy (and the fans), but let's not forget for a second, sports business is very big business. Media deals and sports betting made it bigger, but once in a while serious damage is done to the game, and debate rages about "social damage" and "social responsibility". Fortunately (for the ALF) they have world class legal eagles guiding them along the streets and internet highways paved with gold.

The AFL is not not responsible for visitors with "problematic dependencies", but they do have to maintain due care (and cover their ass).

James Packer 50% owned Betfair and other gaming giant, Tabcorp, are the games prime gambling partners... (at least the official ones)... let's not get into whatever deals may be lurking at pubs nearby to football fields and AFL sports clubs.

Historically, beer aka grog, and the infamous "piss ups" and after parties, and high level sponsorship deals with alcohol brewers were a major source of revenue. Largely under the Rudd government more "social responsibility" laws and policy came into play, so the game had little choice but to look for other money spinners... enter online gambling! (just as mainstream media and internet giants like Google and Yahoo cottoned onto).

After the Brownlow Medal awards night at crown Casino in 2009 the game had no choice but to clean up its connection with piss, such was the public fallout, helped along by a touch of media beatup in the process. Think Crown held Logies Twitter Gate (but with gallons of piss and boat loads of bible bashers into the mix).

Gambling is challenging the game's integrity like never before. The culture is one that rewards winners (on and off the field and internet) but danger is never far away.

With gambling being an ever important past of the business model, that powers that be can't keep it a secret from the punters, and pro active campaigns are all the go. Little wonder sports announcers talk about the odds in broadcasts and numbers come up on TV screens. You can't miss.... "Back a winner" that announcer calls... The well trained eye or ear may be able to detect who the announcer bet on depending upon the look on his face and sound of his voice, when calling the game play.

The AFL is reaping in millions from Betfair and Tabcorp. Last year teams Richmond and Carlton respectively signed up Luxbet (Tabcorp) and Sportingbet.

The Luxbet is valued at $1.5 million to the club. Carlton and Sportingbet have a "second-tier arrangement" worth roughly $600,000 over two years.

Online Gambling And Vice VS Offline And A Visit To Local TAB

As the reader who is smarter than the average bear would know, cash is king... in many aspects of life and business. Footy players have discovered this fact also, and those employed in or around the game at taking a liking to visiting TAB's to play for cash, because its. The "secret" is out that if you don't have a registered account for sports betting, its virtually impossible to trace... or at least that's the general understand. Of course if video cameras or or other surveillance... private investigators etc are tracking a Mr X to the local TAB, that remains another ballgame.

There's a couple of areas of what our friends at Virgin Games - Virgin Casino and PartyGaming may put into the "grey area"... when is a website more than just a website and the role of affiliate programs, where the web publisher can decide what industry verticals to cover, both in journalism and / or a PR capacity, as well as banners and links for promotion.

Websites and website portal which cover gaming and gambling don't become a casino, just because they have some links and logos to a casino or 3, or a range of sports betting brands. Owners and publishers of new media powerhouses such as Chris Costigan of Gambling911 and yours truly of Media Man International are aware of the complexities, as are their respective legal eagles.

A few things are for certain in the ongoing mix of professional sports, sports betting, beer and online casino affiliate programs et al... legal eagles are going to remain busy, AFL teams will looking to cover their ass, punters will keep betting for their favorite teams as long as they are able to, the industry will continue to grow and mainstream and alternative media companies will continue to write about it.

The late mail...

Google is nearing closer to offering a web hosting service to corporates and the general public... media and new media owners and gaming entrepreneurs are understood to be in the mix of those most eager to sign up. Next Google will offer its own sports betting service... ok, that's speculative, but stranger things have happened.

Punters, know the odds, keep it legal and have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. The cover a dozen different sectors and publish Australian Sports Entertainment
http://www.australiansportsentertainment.com

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited and has done b2b with Betfair

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