It has received surprisingly little media
coverage, but the release of a discussion paper on sports betting by the
Victorian Government has massive ramifications for the most of the nation’s
major sports – rules, cricket, league, union soccer, tennis and golf.

The discussion paper – which can be
accessed here – proposes much more than a guaranteed share of revenue from sports betting to
the sporting organisations being bet on.

It proposes that sports controlling bodies
be empowered to determine what, if any aspects of their competitions can be
used for betting purposes. Hear! Hear!

And even more significantly, it will also
require sporting bodies to assure “confidence” in the integrity of sports
events on which wagering takes place. Hear! Hear!

The Victorian Government hopes to persuade
other states and territories to embrace the proposal in a bid to foster a
national approach to the regulation of sports betting. Given that it is likely
to lead to higher revenue for the states and territories, you suspect they will
be falling over themselves to get in line to sign up.

The proposal from the Victorian Gaming
Minister, John Pandazopoulos, is long overdue. Sports betting is the fastest
growing form of betting in Australia.
In the Eastern States alone it now rakes in more than $100 million a year, while in the
Northern Territory, where a number of large corporate bookmakers are located,
it brings in over $70 million a year.

With the racing industry still hopelessly
wallowing over its television rights dispute, the downturn in betting on horse
racing on the TAB is being offset by the growth in betting on other sports.

With the rapid growth in sports betting,
the major codes stand to pick up millions in annual revenue. And provided it is
used for the development of sport, especially in regional and rural areas, and
in the growing outer suburbs, that will be a good thing.

The 20-page paper takes a balanced and largely
non-bureaucratic approach to the whole issue. It is well worth downloading for a read. The sooner its principal recommendations
are introduced the better.

Peter Fray

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