Thursday March 21,2013 : TOP ONLINE GAMBLING EXEC WARNS AUSSIES ON IN-PLAY BETTING
"One of the most uneducated comments that can be made about sport and its integrity, is that ‘in-play betting' would lead to fixings."
With the completion of the Sportingbet deal that will give William Hill plc a major Australian presence under his belt, Will Hill chief exec Ralph Topping came out firing in an interview with The Australian newspaper Wednesday, debunking some of the more misinformed comments made by politicians and journalists, and warning that prohibitions on key trends like in-play betting will only push Aussie internet punters to offshore websites.
The British executive and former chairman of the Scottish FA said that allowing legal bookmakers to offer bets that customers would otherwise place offshore was the best way to control gaming, protect players from unregulated operators and stamp out potential corruption.
And he had some strong words to say about opinions that in-play betting encouraged corruption in sport, observing:
"One of the most uneducated comments that can be made about sport and its integrity in the UK, is that that kind of ‘in-play betting‘ would lead to fixings and whatever else. There has been none of that happen.
"The best way you can regulate a business and control it is to have legitimate bookmakers involved. The problem you get is when the business is run by criminals or unregulated bookmakers."
With a A$26 billion annual wagering turnover, the overall Aussie gambling industry has attracted an increasing number of overseas corporates in recent times, mostly from Britain. Topping said that politicians should be careful not to obstruct the Internet, which had proved to be an effective new gambling channel.
"There is a vast offshore market here, which I think you will not be able to stop through blocking," he commented to The Australian.
"They have tried it in Italy, they have tried it in France and it has failed and I think you have to acknowledge that the best way to fight that market is to legitimise what happens in our market and allow it onshore and allow responsible participants to have an audit trail on that market."
Topping also commented on the chances of rival Ladbrokes entering the Aussie market following speculation earlier in the week that the company was planning an acquisition move on local bookie Tom Waterhouse (a rumour since denied by Ladbrokes)
The William Hill chief said he did not believe Ladbrokes would seek a market in Australia, observing:
"My own view is that if they came out to Australia, they would make a hash of it."