Australian Open to get first gambling ads

Gambling advertising will be seen a three major arenas at the Melbourne Park for this week’s Australian Open. The new promotional signage has angered those who have been campaigning against the rise of gambling and sports betting in Australia, according to local media.

The advertising will only be shown on screens during breaks in play, and the signs will also adorn the messages of other sponsors. However, many are concerned with the messages, and the potential effect on youth in Australia.

“It would be incredibly naïve to think children would not be influenced by it,” Academics, such as Deakin University Associate Professor Dr. Samantha Thomas said. She said research had shown that ads at sporting venues were influential, especially because high-profile athletes are performing in front of them. “Athletes, even if not endorsing it, the image at the ground creates a perceived relationship.”

William Hill declined to comment, but Tennis Australia’s director, commercial, Richard Heaselgrave, said gambling was a legal recreational pastime in Australia and that up until around 2005 there was an onsite wagering presence.

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said: “No-one wants wall to wall tennis coverage that’s littered with ads from the gambling pushers,” adding tennis has already had bet fixing scandals. “Surely this is an invitation for more corruption of the sport”.

In related news, an investigation of match-fixing in world tennis conducted by the BBC and Buzzfeed is to air on Tuesday, Jan 19.