Thursday, May 18, 2006

Australia looks at player change transparancy

Australia's football administrators may be forced to introduce independent stewards to police late team changes and to force greater transparency and disclosure on clubs, after an agreement by state and territory gaming ministers this week. The gaming ministers met in Brisbane on Monday and agreed in principle to establish a national model for all sporting bodies to adhere to. According to the new systen, registered stewards will also investigate integrity issues, to guard against match fixing, betting on matches by players and officials, and issues such as coaches being sacked. Legislation could be introduced in all states as early as next year to force sporting bodies to adopt a model that demands greater transparency and flow of information from clubs.

The continued boom in sports betting and the contracts signed by the Australian Football League (Aussie Rules football) with betting agencies sparked the concern of Victorian state Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos. The AFL has entered contracts with Tabcorp and Betfair worth about A$10 million over five years.

"You would have to have some stewardship structure," Pandazopoulos said, as quoted by Michael Gleeson of The Age (Melbourne). "Sporting bodies like the AFL have understandably looked at the enormous growth in sports betting and wanted a share of the revenue. They have seen others earning an income on the back of their game and they want a share, but with the money comes responsibility. If you accept revenue you have an obligation that the bets (that are placed) are fair and have less risk of interference to integrity. If you want to earn revenue from gaming you also have an obligation to the punter to do what racing does and disclose as much information as you can, as soon as you can ... Where there is gambling money involved transparency does not mean just a bit of information, it means as much information as soon as you can," he said.

"Sports betting is the fastest-growing gambling product — it is still small scale compared with horse racing and pokies — but we have to make sure these issues are managed as it continues to grow," he added.

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