Last week's news that Australian Opposition MP Bruce Billson had introduced a private member's Bill aimed at restricting interactive television betting and reexamining Internet betting has met with heated criticism.
The Age newspaper downunder reports that Two Way Interactive Television's chief exec, Ben Reichel, is both angry and confused over Billson's unexpected bid to ban the fledgling company's pay TV gambling service.
Two Way's new service allows betting on horse races using only a pay TV remote control.
"We've worked our guts out for years to develop it and bring it to market," an incensed Reichel commented, "It's quite concerning having a major political party trying to kill us basically, which is what they're doing," he said. "I think what they're doing is a stunt and it won't have any benefit for problem gamblers at all."
Billson previously said that his proposed amendment, supported by anti-gaming campaigners the Victorian Interfaith Gambling Taskforce and Reverend Tim Costello, seeks to "test the moral decency of the Rudd Labour Government".
In defence of the service, Reichel said Two Way gave more protection for problem gamblers than either the telephone or internet because it featured responsible gambling messages every time users logged in to their account and twice for every bet they made — once when they confirmed a bet, another when they received their receipt.
"What we provide is way beyond what you get for the current services," he said. About 2 000 TAB account holders have placed bets using the pay TV service in its first six weeks of operation, reports The Age. Thus far revenue from the service has not come close to those accrued from phone and internet betting.
"There's been $50 000 or $60 000 in bets on a Saturday, which is the biggest day, but Tabcorp takes in $15 million every Saturday on their internet site, so as a percentage of what they're doing it's absolutely tiny," Reichel said.
Reichel widened his attack to the Opposition's use of a television mocked up as a poker machine to promote its plan to ban the service.
"Personally, I have a moral objection to poker machines because there is no element of skill and there is no way you can win money in the long run, which is why I do find it offensive that the Opposition is describing our service as a poker machine on TV — that's rubbish," he said