Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has called for the sports gambling sector to be suspended in light of the recent Australian Crime Commission investigation into the sports industry, triggering potential loses for the betting industry.
The comments are a threat to betting agencies, which are currently experiencing a high annual growth rate. Figures from IBISWorld show the sports and horse betting industry is turning over $4 billion annually with a growth rate of 2.6% – the highest in the industry.
The ACC investigation uncovered a web of match-fixing, organised crime and widespread doping within Australian sport, but specific sports, players or teams have not been identified.
Xenophon was quoted in The Australian as saying an urgent response was needed to ensure the integrity of Australian sport.
“The revelations contained in the ACC report are so grave, are so serious, that a number of measures must be implemented to ensure the integrity of our sporting codes,” he said.
“And unless and until those measures are implemented, there ought to be a suspension on sports betting in this country,” he said.
Xenophon’s calls for an industry ban were echoed by former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett this morning. Greens senator Richard Di Natale says there needs to be an inquiry into sports betting.
However, Tabcorp said in a statement that betting agencies needed to work with regulators to ensure proper regulation of the industry.
“Australia has some of the most sophisticated sports betting regulations in the world. Additionally, Australian wagering operators and sporting bodies have sophisticated measures in place to identify and manage integrity matters.
“It is important that the focus on tight regulation and operation by reliable wagering operators continues. It’s far safer to have a well regulated betting industry, whose operations are open to scrutiny, than allow the activity to go underground and unchecked,” Tabcorp says.
Tabcorp says betting operations must be open to scrutiny in order to maintain industry standards.
“Integrity in sport is paramount. However, there are some parties out there who want to gain an unfair advantage by manipulating sports activities.
The ACC found organised crime figures have formed relationships with sportspeople which could have resulted in match fixing.
It also found private websites were gaining a greater foothold in the market, due to changing consumer demand and preferences and improved access to betting websites.
Yesterday the Senate passed a motion for the joint select committee on gambling reform to hold an inquiry into the impact of sport betting.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou told ABC radio today the AFL has already been taking measures against match-fixing and a ban could be counter-productive.
“We’re ahead of the game here. We’ve invested in our integrity unit for many years to try and get ahead of the game.
“If there are any bets to be introduced in the game we have the right to veto some of those bets. We’ve taken very proactive action as far as all the issues around gambling in sport,” he says.
This story first appeared on SmartCompany.