The odds are that sport will never be the same
There seems to be a disturbing new additional segment in the telecast of sporting events at the moment. That is the cut to a betting agency for the latest odds on the game, plus all the other odds and ends that you can bet on these days – i.e. the exotics.
It seemed to sink to a new level during this year’s Wimbledon coverage when one prominent bookmaker was almost made out to be a member of the commentary team.
I can be expected if an agency is sponsoring an event or the station which the telecast is coming from. But does it have to be this blatant?
Most adults can make their own decisions on whether they gamble or not, but youngsters just getting into sport are going to think that the two are interrelated.
They are going to think that you cannot enjoy being a spectator unless you have a bet on.
I am lucky to live in a state (Western Australia) that not every single club or entertainment complex you walk into has the “ka-ching” sound of poker machines. But I am sure that is only a matter of time.
There might not even be a need to implement pokies if betting on any sport is just a mouse click or text message away.
People will argue that the addictive office pastime of “tipping” is the most common form of betting on football games. Most have one upfront payment and often some of the money goes to charities or community organisations. Yet, with this pooled structure in place, you rarely hear of someone being ‘in too deep’ due to an office tipping comp.
But most corporate bookmakers are using the same tactic to introduce betting to a wider audience: Is sports tipping pushing us into sports gambling?
The controversy of the Pakistani cricketers betting scandal has now become an object in the rear view mirror. However, it raised the ugly side to betting in the game, where entire games are thrown for the good of a corrupt bookmaker.
Of course the scandals of jockeys being paid off to take falls and the like goes back to the time when Ben Hur drove at the Great Circus, so this is nothing new.
However, until now there are some sports that have been exempt or almost sacred from the instant betting infiltration and the potential for the negative influence on outcomes.
The elephant in the room now becomes any unexpected result where a favourite is beaten in unusual circumstances. It is becoming more tacit to wonder when one hears of an upset and wonder – was someone paid off?
I am sure nearly all sporting contests are safe and pure but it only takes one rogue – an umpire, a player, a coach.
I have no doubt that recent results across Australian sport are legitimate, but when betting becomes such a huge part of sport, doesn’t it make sports fans ask the question?
The Olympic Games start in ten days. The last thing I want to see, just as the runners go down on the blocks, is the telecast cutting to a betting agency for the latest odds.
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