Proposal to ban odds during live TV sports

Tom Waterhouse. Picture: ANDREW MEARES
Tom Waterhouse. Picture: ANDREW MEARES

Giving gambling odds during live sporting events on Australian commercial television would be banned under changes proposed by a broadcast industry body.

Free TV Australia, which represents all of Australia's commercial free-to-air television licensees, wants commentators and their guests to be prohibited from promoting live odds during a game, as well as for 30 minutes before and after the match.

The changes to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice would "reduce and control the promotion of live odds" during sporting broadcasts.

"The proposed amendments to the code reflect an agreement reached between the government and commercial radio, commercial television and subscription broadcasters to reduce and control the promotion of live odds during the broadcast of sporting events," Free TV Australia said.

The proposal follows a parliamentary inquiry into gambling reform last month, which examined the Nine Network's controversial use of bookmaker Tom Waterhouse during rugby league broadcasts earlier in the season.

The network admitted it had received complaints after the 30-year-old bookie appeared on screen during matches updating the betting odds, as well as giving his opinion on play.

Free TV Australia's proposal has been posted on its website and will be available for public comment until May 20.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, a prominent anti-gambling advocate, described Free TV's proposal as "half-hearted".

"There was nothing in the proposed amendments that would stop gambling operators from appearing during telecasts and spruiking their businesses," he said.

Mr Waterhouse would be laughing "all the way to the bank and to the commentary box".

The proposed amendments would not limit the amount of gambling advertising appearing during breaks in play.

Australian Greens senator Richard Di Natale said self-regulation had comprehensively failed and the new code was a "smokescreen for action".

"It's completely meaningless and nothing changes," he told reporters.

Under the proposed code, Mr Waterhouse would be able to continue to provide odds and commentary.

Senator Di Natale said a move towards ending promotion of gambling advertising during sport would be incredibly popular in the community. AAP


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