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Essential: ban all sports betting, says a public fed up with drugs

Dire warnings on drugs in sport have been taken up by the public, with Essential Research finding high levels of concerns about drugs (and betting) in sports. But fans won’t necessarily be turning off their TVs …

It seems that betting baron Tom Waterhouse is not a crowd favourite. The latest Essential Research poll has found more than half those surveyed want to ban all betting on sports in the wake of allegations about widespread drug use and possible match-fixing.

It was 11 days ago that grim-faced politicians and sports bosses held a press conference to warn on drug-taking in sport. While some commentators have begun to dispute that message, claiming a lack of hard evidence, the poll found the public has bought the politicians’ warnings and is baying for a hard-line response.

Those surveyed thought the taking of performance-enhancing drugs was a major problem in cycling (56% rated it a “major problem”), followed by athletics (41%), AFL (39%) and NRL (37%). For each of those sports, fewer than 6% of respondents thought drugs were not a problem.

The poll, which covered just over 1000 people from February 14 to 17, found more than half thought betting on AFL (56%) and NRL (55%) was a major or moderate problem. There were also serious concerns about betting on cricket and soccer, despite lower concerns about drug-taking in soccer (22% thought drugs were a “major problem”). Concern about betting on cycling was less acute (43% rated it a major or moderate problem) than for the ball sports.

Fifty two per cent wanted to ban all sports betting (30% disapproved of such a move). An even more popular proposal — and potentially ominous news for the Essendon Bombers — was to ban teams whose players had been found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs: 54% supported a team-wide ban, 28% disapproved.

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The most popular response was “setting up a sports integrity commission with strong powers” with 76% in favour. A more libertarian approach — “accept that prohibition won’t work and allow approved performance enhancing drugs in sport” — flopped, with just 12% approving.

While those surveyed supported a hard-line response from authorities, they were slightly more relaxed about what they themselves would do if players from their sporting team were found to have taken drugs. The most popular response was the dire threat to “watch fewer games on TV”, an armchair semi-boycott which just over a quarter (28%) thought they would join. However, the net rating for that option was minus 10: 38% said they would not watch fewer games on TV.

Twenty seven per cent said they would attend fewer games, while 19% would stop going to games altogether. Eighteen per cent threatened to switch teams, while 41% decided their loyalty to their team’s colours was just too strong and they would stick with their drug-taking team.

While a Nielsen poll out in Fairfax publications today points to a plunge in support for federal Labor — down a disastrous five points to 30% on the primary vote, and trailing 44-56% on the two-party-preferred (2PP) — Essential has a different result. Essential found Labor’s support had actually lifted one percentage point on both the primary and the 2PP, putting Labor at a still-bleak 46-54 on the 2PP.

Labor’s primary vote was at 35% by Essential, significantly better than the Nielsen result. The difference is partly the result of a higher result for independents / Family First / other in the Nielsen poll. Nielsen is conducted less frequently than Essential.

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  • 1
    drsmithy
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    52% of respondents want the ban _all_ sports betting !? Did they do the poll in a church ?

    Personally I struggle to see an argument as to how or why drug use should impact gambling. In the Real World, drugs only enhance existing abilities and take time to be effective. They aren’t like Roger Ramjet’s Proton Pills.

    (Match-fixing is another matter, however.)

  • 2
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Its only sport. Rigged and drugged for advantage in respect to betting purposes or not, its still only sport. I watch it and enjoy. I do not bet on sports so I can’t lose in respect of rigged and tampered games or player behaviours. Do I worry? Not a bit. I just enjoy the sport.

  • 3
    seriously?
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    The supposed “link” between drug taking and sports betting leading to match fixing has come out of nowhere in the drugs debate. A real piece of media-inspired hyperbole. They - the media - will end up cutting off their own noses here by at the very least having politicians ending up banning sports betting to look like they are “doing something”, but achieving nothing except even less ad revenue. BTW- I don’t like Tom Waterhouse.

  • 4
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    @ seriously Sport betting advertising was to be banned in the media = less income from advertising. The media should be careful about what is exposed in the match fixing and drug debate in sport including the links to sports betting.

  • 5
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    CATHY ALEXANDER: I know you’re about to burst into tears, so brace yourself.

    The whole drugs in sport is a rip-off. There ain’t no such animal. From whom did I garner this priceless piece of information? I can hear you asking. From none other than that distinguished journalist of The Hun, Andrew Bolt.

  • 6
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    CATHY ALEXANDER: I know you’re about to burst into tears, so brace yourself.

    The whole drugs in sport is a rip-off. There ain’t no such animal. From whom did I garner this priceless piece of information? I can hear you asking. From none other than that distinguished journalist of The Hun, Andrew Bölt.

  • 7
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Venise? You mean it’s all “a Labor/Lefty/socialist/commie conspiracy/beat-up”, like “climate change”?

    As for “banning sports betting” - want a bet that will ever happen (while they pay taxes, and ruin lives anyway)?

  • 8
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    KLEWSO: Absolutely! Possibly un-Australian as well?

  • 9
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    You mean as prescribed in a “Blot beat-off”?

  • 10
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Yep!

  • 11
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    To “other polls”, and (from today’s widely publicised results “Gillard vs Abbott” - considering what would probably happen in a contest between “Anyone else/male vs Abbott”?) it seems it could be a case of the “Australian electorate” being a misogynist too?

    Long understood by some, what odds we’d ever see a woman leading the Coal-ition/Limited News Party?

  • 12
    Kevin Tyerman
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Would there be ***ANY*** point to horse-racing if all sports betting was banned? I thought that was actually what the sport was based around…

  • 13
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    KLEWSO: Not the little dwarf with the fixed stare?

  • 14
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 18 February 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Venise, do you mean “the Plagiarising parrot with the fixed stare”?

  • 15
    Posted Tuesday, 19 February 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    KLEWSO: No, the proselytising perp with the fixed hair.

  • 16
    Liz45
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Venise! Well if Andrew said so, who are we mere mortals to disagree? I’m sick to death of the whole sport mad culture. You can’t watch anything now without being bombarded with ads from betting agencies/individuals! Sick to death of the whole damned topic! Too much money spent on sport by governments, federal and state! I enjoy watching the cricket, and this year there were ads for the Australian Open Tennis - gave me the ?????!

    Lately I’ve been thinking, that if Australians have so much money to spend on many forms of betting, including pokies and racing, they can’t be doing it too tough! They’re probably whining about the Gillard Govt and their rising energy prices too!

  • 17
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    LIZ: Hi!

    An Indian friend told me that the difference between Indian poverty and Australian poverty is, in Australia you really have to work at it! After all, it takes some impetus to front up for government hand-outs; buy a beer in the pub; fill out the lottery forms; getting in touch with the bookmaker; going to the race betting shop; getting all those show bags at the Melbourne Show; own a TV set, and so on.

    Those seven activities wouldn’t even register with a poverty-stricken Indian. He needs to eat.

  • 18
    Kevin Tyerman
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Venise,
    Some take themselves into poverty through gambling addiction, or the stupod belief that if they win on a bet they will increase the insufficient money that they already have. Others start with nothing, don’t have the money to gamble, and don’t actually have the money to pay up a month of Australian rent in advance, and thus have great difficulty in housing and feeding themselves, let alone getting tidy clothes to be clean and presentable to actually land a job. With some luck you get out of the cycle (and I am NOT talking about the “luck” of gambling your money and winning), if not it is very difficult to escape poverty when your expenses exceeed your income and you start with no safety net. Then it is about survival, even when you do not gamble, and want to work… even in Australia.

  • 19
    drsmithy
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    An Indian friend told me that the difference between Indian poverty and Australian poverty is, in Australia you really have to work at it!

    Because poor people in Australia only get that way by being stupid or lazy, right ?

  • 20
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    KEVIN TYERMAN: Perhaps you don’t understand what my friend meant. Of course many people start out poor, and through no fault of their own receive rotten circumstances. Of course, some people have dreadful luck and continually draw the short straw. Of course people without money have to spend money to present themselves well in order to get a job.
    None of which negates what my friend was saying.
    In India the entire focus of the poor, is to find the next meal. In Australia we, at least, don’t have to starve.

    DRSMITHY: Your words-not mine.

  • 21
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    DRSMITHY: PS “”Because poor people in Australia only get that way by being stupid or lazy, right ?”“

    If they are gamblers, then completely right.

  • 22
    Kevin Tyerman
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    At my lowest ebb, I sold a fan heater after a long weekend, so that I could buy a hamburger after not eating for 3 days. Admittedly I could have fronted friends and demanded a meal, but my immature Australian pride convinced me that I had to find my next meal more legitimately. I was self employed (obviously not successfully at that time) and not long after hitch hiked about 600 miles to basic employment I was able to line up with someone I knew previously, which got me out of that hole. But there are people without an official address (which I assume makes it hard to get “Government handouts”), or assets to sell like a fan heater, who actually do have a hard enough time finding their next meal, let alone somewhere both safe and comfortable to sleep.

  • 23
    drsmithy
    Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    In India the entire focus of the poor, is to find the next meal. In Australia we, at least, don’t have to starve.

    Indeed.

  • 24
    Stephen Burns
    Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Sports betting is the elephant in the room that is ignored by all governments.

    The US National Football League bans all betting on their games so why not in Australia for AFL, NRL etc?

    Just as for alcohol, our governments depend too much upon betting income to genuinely consider banning it.

    And if I hear any more comments regarding drugs in sport ripping off our poor punters I will scream. Betting is part of the problem.

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