21 January 2016

For immediate release

Tennis match-fixing and corruption allegations have sadly soured the Australian Open, highlighting the need for a rethink on the gambling model used in many sports, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton today called for a Senate inquiry into sports betting in Australia and condemned the decision to allow, for the first time, gambling advertising at the Australian Open.

“The advertising blitz by gambling firm William Hill in three of the major arenas at the Open should be pulled immediately until a Senate inquiry into gambling’s potential to corrupt the game and its social harms are fully investigated,” Mr Shelton said.

“We share the reported concerns of tennis stars, such as Andy Murray, that it is hypocritical for tennis authorities to say they are trying to stamp out match-fixing while partnering with a major gambling company which is allowed to advertise at the Australian Open.

“As part of the duty of care to the families and young people watching the games at Melbourne Park or on TV at home, it is incumbent on the Australian Open organisers to pull the gambling advertising until the gambling and corruption allegations have been investigated.

“We agree with calls by the Victorian Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Jane Garrett and the Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello, for a national conversation on gambling, particularly looking at the impact of gambling advertising on kids and young people.

“We need to establish whether or not gambling is corrupting sport and contributing to poverty in Australia.

“The ACL believes that a Senate inquiry will shine a light on the insidious encroachment of gambling that is taking the fun out of Australian sport and socialising children into gambling.

“There is enough evidence to suggest that gambling has a negative impact on those in low socio-economic regions and it's our responsibility, as well as of those in the sport industry, to protect these people from the demonstrated harm that gambling causes our families and communities.

"This issue is an example of where principled public leadership is needed in the face of powerful vested interests in the gambling industry.

"As a key partner in the Alliance for Gambling Reform, the ACL welcomes the opportunity to provide advice on developing terms of references for a Senate inquiry.”