Has Australian Sports Betting Been Linked to Organized Crime?

Recently, shocking revelations regarding alleged criminal links between Australia’s criminal element, including drug users, and sports betting, have again ignited nationwide debates. The rapidly growing industry of local sports betting and online sports betting, although not illegal nor in any way implicated in the allegations by the Australian Crime Commission, does still maintain a very firm grip on the premier professional codes in place in Australia. This practice is so prevalent that they have actually triggered an additional inquiry into sports betting practices. This inquiry is being performed under the watchful eye of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform.

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The massive explosion of Australian sports betting in recent years has expanded most avid betters’ horizons from just betting on the horses to betting also on a number of sports that they used to just watch for the fun of it. Much of this growth has been blamed on what is called “saturation advertising” as reported in BusinessDay. One of the biggest concerns is that children are being bombarded with this advertising when they watch their favourite sports teams on television, which is generally considered to be inappropriate, if not problematic, by parents and educators alike. Parents complain that they cannot watch any sporting events with their kids without a bombardment of gambling ads, which could potentially create an entire new generation of gamblers.

Reports will be available in May 2013, revealing the committee’s findings. In the meantime, sports betting is projected to top a whopping $4.5 billion annually, and this figure is close to double the amount generated by the betting industry five years ago. At that time, this increase became a reality with the Federal Court decision allowing advertising by bookmakers even in a state where they weren’t even licensed for legal operation.This ruling instantly gave them a highly effective advertising tool for acquisition of plenty of new customers even in the highly tax regulated Northern Territory.

Currently there are absolutely no live odds allowed during games, either during online sports betting or otherwise, as per newly developed codes. Gambling promotion is only allowed if plainly identified to be a gambling promo and only during play breaks. In addition, the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports in Australia has ruled that sporting venues are prohibited from showing any promotions of live odds on any big screen during game play. It has, however, been determined that no sports betting advertising ban introduced by the Australian government could possibly ever completely remove the far-reaching effects of gambling from the many leading sporting clubs in the country, especially with the ever-growing popularity of sports online betting.