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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Betting On AFL Players In Court

The constant stream of court appearances by our much-lauded AFL heroes seems to have no end in sight. Coaches admit they're powerless to control the players. Senior police are skeptical of efforts to bring them to justice. Magistrates, well, they just keep letting them back on the streets. There's only one thing a true-blue Aussie can do when confronted with this inevitable wave of assaults, traffic offences and general lawlessness: start a book on the bastards.

That's right - it's time that Australians can stand up, look these nongs in the eye and say "$50 says he'll be in court by the end of the year". In order to fire up a betting market, I submitted the idea to three leading online sports wagering firms:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have an idea for a wagering market in the AFL that is of potentially great interest to the punting public: betting on which club will next see a player presented to an Australian court to answer charges.

This would make for a great market for the following reasons:

* Potentially all clubs could "come up" (winning isn't the right term)
* It's not perfectly random, with some clubs featuring more often than others
* There is about one event per month
* It is very difficult - and probably illegal - for an individual (player, police officer, judicial figure etc) to influence the outcome
* There is significant public speculation both informally and in the media
* The outcome is official, publicised and verifiable by anyone

Some subtleties:

* "Australian court" would consist of all State and Federal courts (eg Magistrates, County, Federal and High) - though probably not parliaments
* It would need to be restricted to criminal matters - planning disputes, civil suits and carparking fines should be excluded.
* If the player's identity is suppressed (eg the player is a minor or involved in incest) then it shouldn't count
* If two players are presented simultaneously then it should go in order of appearance in court documents
* The wager does not require the player to be found guilty or even enter a plea; appearance at court in the dock is all
* The player should be on the list of the club at the time of the offence (or charge), not the hearing

Extensions could include (subject to legal and ethical approval) betting on:

* The nature of the offence (eg traffic, drugs, assault, sex)
* The plea (guilty, not guilty)
* The outcome (guilty, not guilty)
* Duration that a particular club can go without any court appearances

I think this would be an exciting betting market that would see a groundswell of public interest and support. I look forward to wagering on these events in the near future.

So far, Centrebet and BetFair have indicated they are looking into the idea while SportsBet are yet to respond.

*** Update ***

Centrebet have kindly got back to me and indicated that there is no chance at all that they will be taking this up. So it's going to be play money only at this stage.

Buoyed by the interest, I approached the relevant ministers in the Victorian State Government, seeking their support:
Dear Minister,

No one has done more to promote the popularity and success of gambling in Victoria than the Bracks Government, with over one billion dollars a year flowing into state coffers - and many times more to the prudent investors in the big three gambling firms. Similarly, your government has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the AFL, providing much needed financial support for infrastructure and marketing.

Victoria, as the spiritual home of Aussie Rules football, is best placed to capitalise on taking a punt on all aspects of the footy. Therefore, I have proposed to a number of online betting services that Victorians should be able to wager on which club will next see a listed player make an appearance in court.

This exciting new gambling opportunity combines our love of the punt, footy and celebrity culture, with our reverence for the justice system. It also has significant community benefits, since the public will be able to use the odds to help plan a safe night out.

Both CentreBet and BetFair tell me they are actively looking into this proposal.

Can I count on your support?

I'm still waiting to here what Gambling Minister John Pandazopoulos and (former AFL player) Sports Minister Justin Madden have to say about the idea.

*** Update ***

The Honorable Justin Madden's Chief of Staff Phil Martin wrote back to me, neatly handballing this "new gambling opportunity" to the Panda. "Gambling"? I thought that seedy vice was replaced by the wholesome past-time of "gaming"?

Finally, I thought I'd better seek the support of the AFL and the AFL Players' Association:
Dear Sir or Madam,

I know that footy in this country hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with some aspects of online betting. But you can't deny that there is certainly widespread demand and it's proven hugely popular. There's even more we can do stimulate interest in the best game in the world. I have proposed to a number of online betting services that football supporters should be able to wager on which club will next see a listed player make an appearance in court.

Both CentreBet and BetFair tell me they are actively looking into this proposal.

Of course, it wouldn't be possible without the efforts of the players themselves. Can I count on the support of the AFL Players' Association in this exciting new endeavour?

To be honest, I'm not overly-optimistic about support from the bookies, the politicians or the players' union on this one. After all, AFL players are a very wealthy and influential group: you take them on at your own peril. Feel free to contact any of the above to lend your support to the initiative! Every bit helps.

There are significant public benefits to setting up such a market. Regular readers will know that here at The Speccy we take great pride in offering high quality information about the dangers normal citizens face at the hands of footy thugs through our world first AFL Threat Level Indicator. We also offer a selection of the finest AFL footballer deterrence and mitigation products (ranging from stun guns and pepper spray to first aid kits and STD self-diagnosis kits).

Continuing in this spirit of public service, we're pleased to announce that you can participate in "fantasy betting" (no real cash) at CrowdIQ's Aussie Rules Misbehaviour Market (ARM). There you can buy and sell contracts on which club is going to be in the poo next. We've prepared an introduction to how the market works for your benefit.

Whether you've got inside information, an knack for analysing trends (check The Speccy archives) or are just a good judge of character, sign up and get set for bragging rights. And yes, there will be another scandal soon - you can bet on it!

Word Count: 1192

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