Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates wondered aloud to reporters on Saturday if the AOC taking a cut from gambling companies betting on the London Olympics might be “hypocritical”. Although there is some AOC board disquiet on the issue of gambling, it was an easy call.
With the amount the AOC could hope to raise at this stage clearly not worth the legal heavy lifting.
A recent successful court action by Racing New South Wales enforced corporate bookmakers including Betfair and Sportsbet to pay a percentage of revenue generated from betting on their events back to the sport. While that case is worth multiple millions of dollars, the AOC situation is different, allowing Coates and fellow AOC board members the luxury of a “wait and see” decision.
Unlike Australia’s major sporting codes with official betting company deals, the IOC’s broadcast agreements restrict broadcasters from advertising betting during the Olympic Games. That further limits the slice of action available to the AOC, and the worth of an official deal to the big betting agencies.
With just $800,000 wagered on the Beijing Games, even an increase to an estimated $5 million in London this year would do little for the AOC’s coffers, as Coates acknowledged.
“We’re not talking a lot of money – two per cent of that or something,” Coates said. “It’s not going to break the AOC’s bank to decline or wait.”
That’s $100,000 the AOC might miss out on; small change and put in perspective by criticism midweek of Coates’ 2011 AOC consultancy fee of $482,040, slightly more than the Prime Minister Julia Gillard earned.
After the AOC AGM on Saturday Coates told reporters: ”We talked about whether we should, in principle, do it or not do it, and we said at this point in time that we wouldn’t do it.
“First there would have to be some legislative recognition and some agreement by the IOC that we could have the intellectual property and do something with it.
“But we are not going to go down that route until this settles down.
“The hypocrisy of suddenly putting our hand out and doing an agreement is something that bothers a number of us.
“There’s all sorts of betting. Individual sports may say no to spread betting, and just have win or lose. We’ll look at all of that.”
Coates says some on the board are “troubled by the issue,” but they are saavy enoough to keep theri powder dry.
“It’s just something we’ll continue to monitor. If I’d wanted to ram it through [before the London Olympics] and they’d all supported it I could be out there tomorrow trying to get some legislation and trying to do it. But I didn’t pursue it and no one wanted me to pursue it.”
With money wagered in Australia on the Olympics increasing exponentially it will be interesting to see the AOC position by 2014. The smart money says weighing up potential hypocrisy v potential riches may not be such an easy equation in four years time.
Image: Daily Telegraph