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.
Click to enlarge