Gambling insider: you’re lowering all our odds, Tom

Gambling insider: you’re lowering all our odds, Tom

Congratulations, Tom Waterhouse. In the space of three months, the promotion and advertising of sports betting in Australia has gone from a rarely mentioned distraction to what has now become a significant election issue.

The 10’s on near-certainty to be Prime Minister in five months has apparently bowed to popular opinion and media hysteria and indicated he will act on advertising in sports broadcasts. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said yesterday:

We are natural deregulators, not regulators. But when you’ve got a significant social nuisance, it’s important for government to at least be prepared to step in.”

Hang on a minute; don’t pokies inflict the most social pain and destruction? What does he think of them? Oh that’s right, they are part of the “social fabric”.

So how the hell did it ever come to this? If you run a business whose primary concern is gambling, then surely the obligation is with you — no matter what the law — to responsibly advertise and promote the business?

Racing integrity issues aside, what Tom Waterhouse has done is far from responsible. It’s oversaturation and an unbearably pervasive brand of promotion.

I can’t quite work out whether it was an inflated ego or a genuine marketing tactic that caused him to seek a “commentary” role with Channel Nine’s NRL coverage. Whatever the reason, it was pushing the envelope, and it’s proved the tipping point for public opinion.

Some say Nine is to blame for accepting the coin and allowing Waterhouse to live his dream on the commentary team. Rubbish. When you are in the business of gambling, the responsibility must be with the operator.

Even now with his “branded” segment on the sideline, Waterhouse is still blurring the line between bookie and commentator. Sure, tell us the odds. Tell us where the money’s gone. But why rattle off 15 insignificant stats in an attempt to persuade viewers that you know the game? You can rehearse the numbers for an hour before going to air and have as many people screaming down your ear as you like, but it still comes off as if you are trying to prove something that you are not — an NRL expert.

Not surprisingly, some of those strongly defending Waterhouse have come from within the racing industry. These are the people with the least to lose. Racing will continue to be the true “mug’s game”, and any impact from any proposed advertising restrictions during sporting events will be minimal.

The Waterhouse clan puff pieces in The Daily Telegraph from the likes of Ray Thomas have been laughable and counterproductive to their cause. Stand by for Kate Waterhouse sensationally revealing that her mum is a hard worker and her brother is misunderstood in next Sunday’s edition.

And then there is this dinosaur: “Why the animosity against young Tom?” Max Presnell asked in The Sydney Morning Herald. Utterly embarrassing stuff.

So where are we now? Tom Waterhouse appears to be burning a massive chunk of the family fortune in a continued marketing onslaught. Only time will tell as to whether there will be a significant return on the enormous investment. I highly doubt it. Of more concern to those within the industry, sports betting advertising has now somehow become a 2013 election issue. Which politician wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of populist opinion?

Just a few years after the lifting of cross-state advertising restrictions, one operator has gone rogue and seems intent on dragging an entire industry down with him.

*This article was originally published at On The Punt

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Categories: Companies, Online, Players, SPORT, TV Radio

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14 Responses

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  1. Abbott will do nothing to reduce gambling, he’s just scrounging up more votes which he’ll need come September 14.

    by mikehilliard on May 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

  2. I can’t stand Tom Waterhouse and want him and his advertising off my screen, but at least I put my name to it.

    by JimDocker on May 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm

  3. Due to the harm inflicted on people addicted to gambling, the gambling industry, including pokies, will ultimately go the same way as Big Tobacco. It will in time be utterly reviled, completely discredited and its operators shown to be morally bereft.

    by michael in melbourne on May 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

  4. Oh dear. The sharks who swim under the sonar, so to speak, are upset with the ones that swim near the surface because they draw too much attention to the pack. “Gambling Industry” is a repulsive term in itself, but that is just a euphemism for what it should really be called. I’m not surprised Abbott has associated himself with the debate – Tom Waterhouse is one of the few people in this country that can make him look principled by comparison.

    by Stevo the Working Twistie on May 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  5. I have never heard Tom Waterhouse speak. People can still turn him off or mute him can’t they ? I would rather my taxes were spent on a lot of other things before regulating TV commentary.

    by Andybob on May 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

  6. Tom only owns 25% of so most of the cash being burnt at the moment comes from his (largely) anonymous backers

    by Brian Williams on May 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm

  7. Quite frankly, I find any advertising of gambling on television highly offensive. It should be banned outright. I won’t be voting for Abbott, can’t stand the man, but he is right on this issue in my view.

    by Birdie on May 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm

  8. Where can I get on “Abbott won’t keep all his aspirational promises”?

    by klewso on May 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm

  9. STEVO: Hear hear.

    by Venise Alstergren on May 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

  10. Handkerchief

    by Venise Alstergren on May 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm

  11. Actually they tend to call it the “Gaming Industry” these days, in order that the connotation is more about having fun and games than blowing your weekly pay packet leaving none for the household. As someone working in the software development industry in Melbourne and looking for jobs about a year ago, I was struck by how many positions there are web and mobile application development to support “gaming”. So after being lured in by advertising or “commentary”, make no mistake that the other side of the attack is to make it very easy for you to lose your money via your smart phone. Mug’s game indeed.

    by ranto on May 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm

  12. Thank the lord and bless the baby jesus, that this article was written by anonymous. One person less for the smarmy spiv and family to threaten with a ten year litigation get you to die, drop off, run you out of money. Talk about buying the “law” They DO have form.
    As has the LOTO /MAMIL, me too as the Parliamentary enquiry is in progress as he speaks! to bring down finding on 18th May,I believe wowed with news again! ALL the LOTO idea. Get him off the airwaves phleeses! like Tommy everywhere!
    The strength of character and resolve he showed as he managed to get more than three word motherhood statement out! Only three er um and two lip licks!

    by GF50 on May 6, 2013 at 6:34 pm

  13. Sound like sour grapes, gambling insider. Is he taking market share mate?

    by Scott on May 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

  14. I would like to give Tom Waterhouse a fine damask hanky.

    by Venise Alstergren on May 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

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