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07 September 2010

Australian Sporting Codes To Gamble With Integrity Officers, by Greg Tingle - 7th September 2010

Major Australian sports are set to get integrity officers, a pitch largely brought in my the casino like sports betting aspects of many sports, which has seen the integrity of the sector severely threatened over the past year, with the recent Aussie - Paki cricket match fixing being the most recent high profile brown stain. There was also a number of NRL, AFL and snooker matches questioned, and its obvious that affirmative and real, effective action is needed. For the corrupt people in and around sports betting in Australia the party may soon be over. Media Man and Gambling911 probe the sector quizzing movers and shakers, some on record, to help us find the way forward in the sometimes murky world of sports betting both down under and further afield...

Numerous high profile Australian sports betting experts has called on the major sporting codes down under in Australia to each appoint a specialist to oversee "gambling" - sports betting. Don't even get us started if it should be classified as a game of skill or game of chance. Might depend on if your an insider or an outsider. You know the drill.

Current leaders in the sports betting sector in Kangaroo and Koala land include James Packer 50% owned Befair, Centrebet, Sports TAB and Sportingbet.

Sportingbet chief Michael 'Sure Thing' (Media Man tag) Sullivan has been very forthright with his belief to see a crackdown and more safeguards and the like in place for the industry.

The sure one advised the amount of dollars being gambled in Australia mixed in with sporting bodies often having a "professional relationship" with the betting agencies, gave strong reason for the need to change.

"Not just Sportingbet but all the major operators have got relationships with the NRL so it's probably time to appoint an integrity officer because betting in this country is incredibly transparent," Sullivan told the press.

"The cricket betting is underground with Indian bookmakers who turn over billions of dollars with absolutely no transparency whereas here it's regulated, transparent and taxed. It's not just the NRL - the AFL, Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia have to embrace the idea (of a betting expert) and go to the next level because there's no doubt our turnover is starting to be very significant in both codes."

His stern and well informed comments came after reports suggested investigations into a suspicious plunge on an unusual "exotic betting option" in a rugby league match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys could be extended to include 6 NRL games.

A greater scandal is ongoing over an illegal betting surge in cricket, with three Paki "players" (performers?) suspended for now following a spot-fixing scandal over bowling no balls in the 4 Test against England.

In excess of 80 cricket matches will be probed into as part of a broader investigation.

Gerard 'Dollars' (MM tag) Daffy, who leads relative newcomer sports betting agency Sportsalive, advised Australia was the best regulated betting country in the world, despite some knockers not being totally convinced.

"Several other countries are copying our model of information sharing and knowing your client," Daffy said.

New clients opening accounts must pass a 100-point security check.

"It's the same as opening a bank account. We have that information, the industry regulators have it, AUSTRAC (anti money laundering group) have it and as we're finding out now, the police have it."

Daffy was happy to go on record and say you couldn't just pick up the Yellow Pages in India and look up a bookmaker because they were illegal.

"If you can believe the stories there's over $100 million a day bet illegally in Mumbai alone. John the bookie operates in a shed in Mumbai. The law says he doesn't exist but he holds a million dollars a day."

Daffy reckons illegal Mumbai bookmakers turned over in one day what Australian bookies combined held in a year on cricket!

They offer punters hundreds of wagering options including the toss, minutes lost through rain, which end the umpires would stand and how many players would be wearing sunglasses. Betting on no balls is under the spotlight at the moment, but no word on bets about if Australia's John Howard will get a job as an official in Paki land or India. Might be about 100,000 to one.

Bookmakers contacted by news media said they'd co-operated fully with the current NRL betting probe, handing over relevant betting sheets on the Bulldogs-Cowboys match.

None had been asked for any more particulars on any other NRL games.

St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett said it was time to stop the "exotic bets" on sports.

"It is an issue for the game, there's no doubt about that," he told Network Ten.

"They've just got to stop the multiple (betting options). There's just too many variables that can be manipulated too easily. I'd like to think we're all honest people, but that's not the case."

A number of offshore based gaming and sports betting companies are rumoured to have an interest to ramp up down under and eventually even have offices in Australia including PartyGaming - Gamebookers - bwin, Virgin Games and even BetUS, which has a stronghold in the UFC niche, which Aussie's have taken a liking to. Experts think that betting on pro surfing and some snow sports could be growing markets, but snooker remains on the nose, following betting and fixing scandals last year. It's unclear if the scandals will slow down or speed up overseas operators kicking business along in Australia, but interest is sky high and is likely to remain so for some time, new government or not.

A Media Man spokesperson said "Yes, I believe the sports sector needs more regulation, as does the igaming sector in general. Betting and online games are not going to go away. The internet is a global medium. Kids no now to beat filters with proxy and the like. Corruption needs to be stamped out, and more regulation and safeguards are the way forward. We need more quality people and brands in the mix. Betfair has Hugh Taggart, Centrebet has Neil Evans, Virgin - Richard Branson, PartyGaming with Jim Ryan. Maybe our former P.M John Howard might be up for the role. If it's on Australian soil, I think the Australian public would like it. Liberal leader Tony 'The Bruiser' Abbott, a former boxer, would be able to also talk sports and sports betting shop with Howard more often. It would be great for the business of sports with integrity, politics, and make more interesting sports media fodder. Hopefully the Australian Labor Party can help get this sports betting situation right, but I have my doubts. I expect Betfair and Centrebet to maintain their top positions and to drive forward innovation and safeguards."

Readers, what do you think of having sports betting integrity offices for Australia? Are you an honest John, or are you susceptible to do the wrong thing, given half a chance? Tell us in the forum.

Readers, know the odds, bet with your head, not over it, and have fun. Good punting.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming.

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