Sunday 17. January, 2016

Gambling Ads at Melbourne Park a First

Campaigners are up in arms that for the first time gambling advertisements will be on the walls of Melbourne Park for the upcoming Australian Open. Large electronic billboards will be at all three major arenas at Melbourne Park and this has riled those who are campaigning against the proliferation of sports betting in Australia.

The electronic boards have been installed inside Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena and will display advertisements from William Hill, as well as other sponsors, during the breaks in play. Last year, William Hill became the first ever gambling sponsor of a Grand Slam event.

Those who are angered by the October decision to allow gambling ads at the sporting events say that it encourages the spread of sports betting and raises significant concerns over in-play betting. The influence of sports betting advertisements on children is at the forefront of these discussions with Deakin University Associate Professor Samantha Thomas warning that a connection between sports and betting advertising influences children.

Sports integrity has come into question in the past and in 2014, at the Australian Open, a man was arrested for courtside betting.

“No-one wants wall-to-wall tennis coverage that’s littered with ads from the gambling pushers,” commented Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello. “Tennis has already had bet fixing scandals. Surely this is an invitation for more corruption of the sport.”

The Victorian Government has expressed similar concerns with Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett stating that a national conversation needs to take place that discusses the influence that sports betting advertising has on children.

Tennis Australia’s director, commercial, Richard Heaselgrave, backed the decision to allow the advertising saying that gambling is legal in Australia and that William Hill has a history of maintaining the integrity framework of sports.

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