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Further problems in store for Australian gambling companies

The Sydney Morning Herald reports further problems could be in store for Australian gambling companies in the form of possible restrictions on publishing odds during radio and television broadcasts of sporting events.

The newspaper reports that the outcome of a teleconference held Friday between Federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib and the national sporting associations is still awaited.

A Melbourne radio commentator is quoted in the SMH report as saying: “My understanding is … they will announce, or push towards, a ban on odds mentioned during radio and TV broadcasts of sporting (events) with the exception of pay and free to air racing.”

The outcome appears to have been preempted by a statement from Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, which intimated that television commentators will be banned from urging viewers to bet during live sport broadcasts, with federal and state ministers yesterday labelling the practice ''insidious''.

Conroy was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying: ''You won't need to have Richie Benaud telling you and urging you that here's the odds on who's going to get out next or who's going to bowl the next no-ball, and telling you to go online and start betting.''

The clampdown would reduce promotion of live odds on TV and at grounds that was ''targeting the vulnerable and the young as they are attending sporting events, as they are watching on television'', according to the statement.

The sports betting industry will have a year to self-regulate. If it does not, state and federal governments will legislate to ban frequent mention of live odds on TV and curb promotion at grounds.

Betfair, half owned by James Packer's Crown, indicated it would lobby state governments to stop the restrictions on stadium signs, but would work to develop new broadcasting standards.

Betfair has a deal with Channel Nine for live cricket odds promotion, and with AFL stadium owners for scoreboards.

''We believe providing advertising or odds mentions in a responsible, timely, contextual manner is OK. If it has become too frequent, I can understand the need to cut back,'' a spokesman said.

Centrebet said it accepted ''the referee's decision'' but did not expect live betting turnover to drop.

The NRL chief executive, David Gallop, said the federal government was addressing ''issues that we have been raising publicly''. He supported self-regulation.

Free TV Australia, representing the commercial networks, said it would work with government to develop standards, but the restrictions must apply equally to all media platforms. (Communications Minister) Conroy said the measures would be ''platform neutral''. Contracts in place would not be affected, but ''there will be no more new contracts''.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou, told radio station 3AW, “This is an issue that we have taken up with the federal government, we’ve taken up with the betting agencies and the venues.

“It is absolutely an issue that this sort of advertising in your face has the potential to get in the heads of young children. And we’ve been very proactive … about having some protocol around this advertising and try and do it a bit more sensitively … and sensibly.”

The latest ban follows one on in-game betting on a range of sports announced by minister Conroy on Friday. This is due to be implemented by June 2012.

The ban will affect all sporting codes except horse racing which "all ministers saw as a special case, given its longstanding connection with wagering," Conroy said.

The federal government has also committed to a review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 which will include consultation with key stakeholders, states and territories and the broader community.

Source: InfoPowa News

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