Channel Nine's cricket commentary promoting Betfair comes under fire

The furore swirling around Australian cricket commentators punting Betfair services during a recent test match (see previous InfoPowa report) took on an international flavour this week as the International Cricket Council (ICC) weighed in with some influential criticism. The governing body for international cricket joined protests that this type of on-air advertising for a betting agency puts the integrity of the game at risk.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that the ICC refuses to have any dealings with gambling ventures and goes to great lengths to prevent players from betting on games after a damaging match fixing scandal in the 1990s.

Channel Nine has apparently remained undeterred by the controversy surrounding its decision to advertise betting agency Betfair during its ball-by-ball cricket commentary, which kept viewers up to date on Betfair rates and odds on the game..

The innovative advertising tactic has evoked critical comment from one of Australia's most vociferous anti-gambling activists, the independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenaphon, who said: "Those revered commentators spruiking Betfair in the way that they have really undermines their credibility and has a potential to undermine the credibility of cricket."

ICC president David Morgan said he found the practice disturbing: "That is something that Haroon Lorgat, our chief executive has been in conversation with Cricket Australia about," he told ABC radio's PM program. "I know that the whole issue of the discretion of odds, on current games being broadcast is something that Mr Lorgat has had some discussion with Cricket Australia about.

"What we are convinced about is cricketers are no longer assisting bet makers."

Cricket Australia has a sponsorship deal with Betfair, as has Channel Nine, reports ABC.

Senator Xenophon said the ICC needs to do more to stop what he described as the blatant promotion of gambling. "It's clear that what Cricket Australia is doing - cosying up with Betfair - is bad for the game of cricket," he said.

"There are real dangers with Betfair's involvement with cricket, the very nature of Betfair where you can bet on a losing event, you can bet on someone playing badly, that opens up the game of cricket to corrupt events.

"The ICC really needs to go much further rather than just skirting around the issue."

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