All Bets Are Off

There has been a significant change in the television coverage of sports in the past few years. Gone are the days when you could sit down and watch a game of footy, with the only intrusion being Ray Warren. Now we are exposed to the likes of Tom Waterhouse and Betfair giving us up to date odds on the game we’re watching. Sport in my opinion has always been family orientated, whether it be the numerous fan and family days all clubs/teams host, to the incredible amount of merchandise targeted at children, but when live coverage, particularly in a family time slot has ads, live crosses and odds displayed regularly, I have an issue.

Peter FitzSimons of Fairfax Media has taken it upon himself to question this latest development of coverage, something I believe more leading sports writers should write about. This is an actual issue which I see as having a detrimental effect on society, and has to be addressed. Tom Waterhouse claims he was “born to bet,” a slogan FitzSimons and others suggest is a “seductive and ubiquitous” way of encouraging young people, in particular, to gamble. And this is repeated not only during sports telecasts, but on prime time TV where there is no regulation on advertising for gambling.

Please don’t read this wrong, I don’t have an issue with someone having a flutter on the result of a sports game. However when my senses are assaulted by advertising for gambling, it’s gone too far. In a society where its repeatedly stated there are people out there that need to be helped, this type of intrusion has to be halted. Watching the NRL this season, Tom Waterhouse has seemingly been accepted as a member of the Channel 9 Commentary Team, complete with Channel 9 microphone, and pre game, half time and post-game opinion crosses. Equally poor is how betting agencies are allowed to offer deals for money back if a certain situation occurs and you lose your bet. All this is doing is encouraging further gambling, something society doesn’t need. How is this allowed? Gambling has a terrible effect on Australian society, destroying relationships, families and lives. Whereas smoking and alcohol have stringent controls and even bans on their advertising, instead we have a respected actor spruiking a new company, constant interruption and engaging advertising designed to do one thing – take people’s money.

So this is a call to our politicians, sports writers and the community as a whole. Stop this ridiculousness, stand up and make a point akin to Peter FitzSimons or I’m scared we will face a gambling epidemic as the most technologically bound and influenced generation yet, are inundated with advertising.