ACT News


Amateur competitions feel bet threat

Online sports betting agencies are offering live odds on amateur competitions in Canberra, raising the prospect of match-fixing in grassroots sport.

However, sporting organisations and the ACT government are helpless to stop it.

Canberra's soccer league, fearful of its integrity being breached, has watched helplessly as a Northern Territory firm offered odds on its top-tier competition.

That led to Capital Football recently issuing a statement on its website, reminding players, coaches and administrators they must abide by the Football Federation Australia code of conduct, especially clause four, which deals with betting, match-fixing and corruption.

There is no suggestion of any code of conduct breaches in Capital Football, but at least one club coach instructed his players at the start of the season to avoid betting on games.

Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said it would be naive to think match-fixing would never happen on a local level if not policed properly. ''We need to protect our game and protect the interests of the broader community of our game,'' she said.


''We want fair play and not play that could be manipulated because of the gambling interests that are involved. It's a really unsavoury part of the game that we want to try and minimise in Canberra.''

Reid said Capital Football was not contacted before English organisation Bet365 began betting on Capital Football National Premier League games this season.

Bet365 didn't offer any odds on games last weekend, but still had markets for other state-league soccer competitions across Australia as well as games involving Canberra clubs in the North East Australian Football League.

Betezy also operates on the NEAFL as part of a sponsorship deal with the Tuggeranong Hawks.

ACTTAB spokesman Mike Frame said it didn't offer odds on local sport because semi-professional and amateur players were more vulnerable to match-fixing than their professional counterparts.

''You expose yourself as a gambling agency to high risk,'' Frame said. ''A lot of the lesser events are less regulated and are harder to police than the high-profile games.

''It's very tempting if you have someone come up to you and say, 'Here's x amount of dollars, go dead.'''

Frame said less than 10 per cent of ACTTAB's revenue was generated through sports betting, and that it offered betting on local footy grand finals as a courtesy to the respective codes.

A spokesman for the ACT government admitted it was powerless to prevent online bookmakers that operate outside its jurisdiction from betting on local sport.

''While acknowledging gambling on local sport is legal, gambling on any activity has the potential to raise integrity issues - particularly around sports or competitions that are at the non-elite level,'' the spokesman said.

''The ACT government does not have any regulatory control over Bet365's activities, including what sports it is allowed to take bets on.''

Reid admitted it would be difficult to track players or officials who were engaged in illegal gambling practices.

However, NEAFL Eastern Conference manager Jack Masters said it was possible to monitor betting activity due to the code working with betting agencies. The NEAFL has more resources at its disposal due to its close ties with the AFL.

''It gives you the opportunity to potentially track bets,'' he said.

''It's something we're very serious about. However, it's a sign of the times in a lot of ways.

''You would hope we don't have anyone playing in the NEAFL that is that way inclined.''

Bet365 and Betezy didn't return calls from Fairfax Media.


Comment are now closed