Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Millions hope is well backed - Northside Chronicle - 30th December 2008

Punters have unleashed a plunge on talented Sydney galloper Koblenz to upset unbeaten star and raging favourite Paprika in the rich two-year-old classic at the Magic Millions carnival on the Gold Coast on January 10.

Centrebet’s media chief and race analyst Neil Evans said the Gary Portelli-trained Koblenz had been backed from $16 down to $12 on the back of several wagers in the last week, including one Victorian punter who outlayed $5000 at $15 on Christmas Day and a Queensland punter who outlayed nearly $4000 at the same price.

``He’s the stand-out money horse at the moment, despite the unbeaten run of gun filly Paprika which has seen her storm in from $3.00 to an odds-on $1.95 favourite after her latest win,’’ Evans said.

``It’s very big money for the talented Koblenz, considering Paprika has won four from four, including her latest win when she blitzed a useful field in the $150,000 Listed Tommy Smith Slipper (1200m) at Doomben.’’

Racing Pegasus remains second-elect on $7 – the only other galloper in single figures.

Meanwhile, Evans said, perennial bridesmaid Express Air has shortened dramatically from $8 into $5 to win the 3YO Magic Millions showdown, despite being beaten by the flying Youthful Jack at Doomben on Saturday.

``Express Air has his foot right on the till, and with Youthful Jack out of the road, the Magic Millions is well within his reach – and punters know it,’’ he said.

``There’s been a string of bets after Saturday’s run, and Express Air is now challenging the impressive Rock Kingdom ($4.50 out to $4.80) for favouritism. Express Air now commands about 75 per cent of the entire money invested to far on the race.”
Express Air has been the exclusive mover on Centrebet’s all-in market, with most other runners easy in the market. Zero Rock is a clear $7.00 third favourite, while Adnocon ($61.00 into $31.00) has been a firmer at long odds!

2YO Magic Millions: $1.95 Paprika (in from $3), $7 Racing Pegasus, $10 Shadow Assassin (in from $11), $11 Carlton Forward (out from $8), $11 Horizons (out from $8.50), $12 Koblenz (in from $16), $14 Double Heart (out from $13), $21 Fast Lover, $21Moonlight Hussey (out from $17), $21 Our Dreaming, $21 Powerful Light, $26 or longer others.

3YO MAgic Millions: $4.80 Rock Kingdom (out from $4.50), $5 Express Air (in from $8), $7 Zero Rock, $15 Bhutane Dane (out from $12), $15 Feline Flyer, $15 Tempest Tost, $17 Whisper Bay (out from $15), $21 Black Minx (out from $11), $21 Cat D’Antibes (out from $12), $21 High Rollin Woman (out from $13), $26 or longer others.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Fortunes won and lost, by Christian Nicolussi and Brent Zerafa - The Daily Telegraph - 27th December 2008

Big bookie Matthew Tripp doesn't usually have a worry in the world as he ambles down the main street of Darwin on a Saturday morning.

He'll grab a coffee, buy the paper and chat to a few locals before waltzing back to the office. It is a routine as he prepares himself for the afternoon onslaught.

But on a balmy morning in September, Tripp's phone rings and the normally relaxed stroll ends abruptly with the bookie stopping dead in his tracks. "I want to have $1million on the Hussler,'' the voice down the phone line says.

Tripp pauses, his mind processing the very thought of possibly winning or losing more than some people ever earn in a lifetime. "I think we can do business,'' he finally says.

For the next five minutes Tripp paces up and down the street negotiating a price with his client. After some debate, they come to an agreement. Tripp recalled this week how he accepted the bet at $1.65 - risking $650,000 to possibly win $1million.

Weekend Hussler, Australia's best horse, won the Underwood Stakes with ease and Tripp was forced to hand over the cash.

"I have a very good relationship with that individual client. He rings me when he wants a bet, we negotiate a price and we go from there,'' Tripp said. "That was the biggest single wager I have taken this year, but there have been smaller bets that would have resulted in bigger payouts than that one.

"I would be lying if I said I don't get nervous but that's my job, how I live my life - sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.''

This is now a common occurrence for heavyweight corporate bookies who have made staggering fortunes by changing the face of Australian punting. Like the time when Michael Sullivan took on champion Lonhro at his final race start in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2004.

He accepted a bet of $5million on the black flash at the short quote of $1.20. Lonhro lost and Sullivan won. In less than a decade, these super-bookies have built a $4billion betting empire from their remote outpost in the Northern Territory.

Their growth has been so spectacular they are seen as a real threat to the once impregnable TAB.

They dine at the best restaurants. They play golf at some of the world's most exotic courses.

Their presence has transformed the Darwin Cup carnival into one of the most glamorous events on the social calendar because of the sport stars and A-list celebrities brought to the Top End by high-flying corporates.

Not even the global credit crunch has slowed their huge growth. The punters are the big winners as the corporates try to outdo each other and offer the best odds.

At the top of the pile is the experienced Con Kafataris' Centrebet and Sullivan's Sportingbet. The pair turned over a whopping $1.3billion and $1.35billion respectively last financial year.

Centrebet, a publicly listed company, started operating in Poland this year. It plans to expand into another European country next March. Sullivan wrote 165,000 tickets alone on Melbourne Cup Day last month and his business continues to grow at 20 per cent a year.

Closing in on the leading pair is Matt Tripp's Sportsbet. Tripp's company sponsored the Australian Masters Golf tournament in Melbourne last weekend and is expected to turn over more than $1.5billion next year.

"Four years ago we turned over $50million. This year we're aiming for $1.5billion, but that mark could even reach $1.6billion,'' Tripp said.

Michael and Alan Eskander's Betstar, Mark Morrissey's Betchoice and Sean Bartholomew's RacingOdds.com are also some of the other heavy hitters who continue to trade in the millions in sports and racing.

In a showdown that is as fierce as it is unsustainable, these Northern Territory-based companies havetaken on the TAB and offer unprecedented rewards for punters' loyalty. Free bets and holidays have been offered as part of an advertising blitz since rules in NSW were relaxed in September.

Billboards and full-page newspaper ads have been taken out as companies try to win new customers.

Bookmaker Tom Waterhouse is one of the leading bagmen in the country and on track to turn over $250million. But not even his personal milestone would make a ripple with his corporate cousins.

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South Africa compiles shock lead at MCG - 29th December 2008

Australia have lost their grip on the second Test against South Africa and may well have lost paceman Brett Lee to a foot injury for the rest of the summer as well.

After South Africa recovered from 8-251 to make 459 in reply to the home side's 394 on day three of the second Test at the MCG, Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke left reporters in no doubt as to his feelings.

"Definitely one of our most disappointing days for a long time in Test cricket," Clarke said on Sunday.

"Turning up this morning we had a 196-run lead and now we're 60 behind.

"It's a very disappointing day. In saying that, it's another example of how fast things can change in Test cricket.

"I still believe if we bat well tomorrow we can get ourselves into a position to win this Test match."

Australia reached 0-4 at stumps, still trailing by 61 runs.

JP Duminy top-scored for South Africa with 166, his maiden hundred in his second Test.

The 24-year-old left-hander frustrated the Australians by adding 180 for the ninth wicket with paceman Dale Steyn, who made a career-best 76.

It was a ninth-wicket record for Australia-South Africa Tests and the third-highest ninth-wicket partnership in Test history.

Victorian Peter Siddle led Australia's attack with 4-81 while spinner Nathan Hauritz took 3-98 and Mitchell Johnson returned figures of 2-127.

Australia's attack was depleted by pace spearhead Lee's absence on Sunday.

Team physio Alex Kountouris said the NSW quick will attempt to bowl in South Africa's second innings despite a stress reaction of the metatarsal bone which could soon turn into a stress fracture.

"At the moment the crack's not there but it's not far away. There's a very strong indication the crack's not far away," Kountouris said.

"So it could be one ball away, it could be 10 balls away.

"I don't think he'll be able to play the Sydney Test (on January 3).

"It would be something between four and six weeks."

Lee's likely absence for his home Test leaves fellow NSW quick Doug Bollinger and Tasmania's Ben Hilfenhaus vying for a Test debut.

After Australia's inability to bowl South Africa out in the first Test in Perth, losing by six wickets as the Proteas made a near-world record 4-414, Ricky Ponting's side need a massive form reversal in the field to win the second Test, especially given Lee's injury.

Adding to the skipper's woes was the ongoing knee problem of all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who was finally given a bowl with his off-spinners in the 125th over and took 0-14 from 11 overs.

"It was always going to be harder after losing Brett. Being a bowler down obviously hurt us a lot," Clarke said.

"But we have no excuse. Full credit has to go to the South African batting."

Duminy was surprised at the late introduction of Symonds.

Clarke said: "I have no idea why he didn't come on until so late. I guess you'd probably have to ask Ricky that."

Duminy's seven-and-a-half-hour innings included 18 fours in a grand performance in front of 42,079 fans.

Steyn, who took 5-87 in Australia's first innings, batted for four hours despite several blows to the hands from Australia's pace bowlers.

Steyn was dropped on 32, 33 and 57.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Outcry over Betfair cricket ads, by Natasha Robinson - The Australian - 27th December 2008

The Nine Network has caused a furore for allowing online betting agency Betfair to advertise during the Boxing Day Test, with campaigners furious that the plugs -- including one by cricket legend Ritchie Benaud -- expose children and teenagers to gambling.

World Vision head Tim Costello and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon said yesterday they were shocked to see Betfair's strong presence on advertising billboards at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Mr Costello, who was at the MCG yesterday, said he was "very worried" about the potential for children who viewed the Betfair advertising to go home and gamble online without their parents' knowledge.

"You've got families and kids here," Mr Costello said. "Of course gambling is part of life, but I think when it's a family cultural event like the Boxing Day Test, the advertising is inappropriate."

He said he was particularly concerned at the way Benaud had quoted Betfair's odds during his commentary, broadcast live around the nation on the Nine Network yesterday morning.

"The truth is we know that gambling addiction breaks up families, causes crime and comes at a huge social cost," Mr Costello said. "When it's a family event like the cricket, when it's being broadcast live and kids are listening to it, it is overstepping the mark. It's inappropriate certainly for kids at a family event."

Senator Xenophon, who was elected as a South Australian senator at the last federal poll largely on an anti-gambling platform, described the online gambling world as the "wild west" and called on the Rudd Government to impose regulations on the broadcasters.

"Online gambling such as Betfair has the potential to deliver the next wave of problem gamblers," he said.

"There's very little regulation in relation to advertising. Gambling advertising ought to carry with it warnings, and we ought to be looking at restrictions similar to those that apply to cigarettes and alcohol."

Senator Xenophon agreed with Mr Costello that the ability for online betting agencies to advertise at the cricket threatened the Boxing Day match's family-friendly status. "It's a shame for the great game of cricket that it's been reduced to just another event to have a punt on," Senator Xenophon said. "It diminishes the great game of cricket."

Nine's publicity officer did not return calls yesterday.

Senator Xenophon said he had concerns that online betting on sporting matches could expose sports to corruption and match-fixing. A spokesman for Betfair last night declined to respond to the criticisms made by Mr Costello and Senator Xenophon, but the agency has strongly argued in the past that it has safeguards in place to guard against corruption, the risk of which is increased because punters have the chance to bet on a team's loss as well as a win.

Betfair tipped off the Australian Football Federation last week that Socceroos Kevin Muscat and Craig Moore, as well as Melbourne Victory midfielder Grant Brebner, had bet on soccer matches, in breach of regulations.

In 2000, South African captain Hansie Cronje was banned from cricket for life after admitting he took bribes from bookmakers to fix games.

And Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were fined by the Australian Cricket Board after being offered inducements to give pitch and weather reports on Australia's tour of Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1994.

(Credit: The Australian)

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Horse Racing Betting News

Horse Racing betting is heating up at Media Man Australia.

Media Man Australia enjoys a history with horse racing going back to Newport Beach TAB, Big Tim Bristow, and in more recent years, Royal Randwick Racecourse.

More information in the Media Man Australia Horse Racing Portfolio.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Season's Greetings From Australian Sports Entertainment

Wishing you a happy and safe Christmas from the Media Man Australia team.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Warnie reviews his life through song and dance, by Shane Warne - The Daily Telegraph - 10th December 2008

I always said my life was like a soap opera - and that my script writer did a great job throughout my cricket career.

But the latest effort was penned by Eddie Perfect and it's the premiere of Shane Warne The Musical.

When I first heard about it, I was angry and wondered how anyone could possibly do this - surely people need permission to portray your life as a stage show.

But, no, apparently they don't.

It wasn't about the fact that I can't laugh at myself, because I can. I've never taken myself too seriously and I think that's helped me achieve both in cricket and on the commercial side.

Off the field, some of the personal stuff was no laughing matter and had a huge impact on my family. But that is water under the bridge and a long time ago.

So what should I do? See it or not see it?

What has Eddie based his musical on? Would it be incorrect, unauthorised biographies? Or would it be his interpretation of events over 20 years? And how would he know, anyhow?

I have mixed emotions. On one hand, not many people have a musical written about them, so in a way it's flattering.

But I kept asking myself, 'What's it like?' and 'Is it full of cheap gags?'. Surely they've been done to death.

Or is Eddie a fan and wants to portray my life in a fun and respectful way? What's his slant and take on the way events transpired?

As a musical, I figured there would be some poetic licence there, too - a version of my life; not necessarily the truth.

I was very concerned how he portrayed Simone - the woman whose life was most affected. Simone has endured a lot through the years, but we've moved on since then and are happy, as are our children.

Another concern was how they viewed my mother, Brigitte.

I spoke to friends and at length to my manager, James Erskine, who finally persuaded me that the best way to make an informed decision - the only way, really - was to see it.

James organised for this to happen, and as I sit with him in a hotel across the road waiting to be escorted in to see the preview, I am suddenly very nervous.

More edgy, even, than facing Pakistani quickie Shoaib Akhtar on a green, seaming deck, I reckon.

I had a couple of nervous VBs in quick time before the moment came.

The producer Kevin Whyte wanders across, introduces himself and tells us it's about to start.

We walk across the road, sit in the back row and watch Eddie, looking like me, welcome everyone to the musical.

It's a weird sensation.

But even through the opening, I can't help but chuckle at parts and think back to the time these events happened.

It's hard to explain watching a musical and being entertained when it's your life.

One of the early scenes revolves around my old leg-spin mentor Terry Jenner, when he sat me down for a chat in Adelaide in 1992. Thought it was pretty funny stuff, though lets just say there was some poetic licence taken.

I reach the interval and think this it's pretty good - and fair - but I'm getting nervous because the so-called "scandals'' are about to happen.

Buckle up the seatbelt, I think to myself, and count to 10.

There are a few more chuckles and the odd cringe - but not too many, I must admit.

Then, it's over. My life in two hours has just flashed before my eyes.

Again I felt weird but, in a strange way, proud of what I've just witnessed.

Kevin comes over after the show and asked my thoughts.

To my surprise, I tell him it's pretty good. I ask Kevin to see if Eddie wants to join James and me for a snack around the corner.

Almost as soon as we sit down, Eddie joins us. After an awkward "hello" to begin with, I pick his brain for the next two hours as to how and why he wrote the musical.

It is an interesting few hours - and I'm very glad they happened. Great to chew the fat and learn what type of man Eddie is.

I think Eddie and his team have written the musical in a respectful and sympathetic way and that they have captured my fun, larrikin side.

Eddie's smile is one of a friendly rogue, but intelligent at the same time. And it's great to learn that Eddie and his cast are going to support something very close to my heart, the Shane Warne Foundation.

I give him my blessing and congratulate him on the way he portrayed not only me, but the people who are important to me - Simone and Mum.

I walk away feeling good and thinking that although is isn't totally accurate, it's a very funny show, extremely entertaining and with some excellent songs that have been well thought out and delivered in a fun way.

The show has a nice, warm feel. It also has passion and lots of emotion.

I think people will be entertained and ride the show with Eddie and his brilliant cast.

Enjoy it, I say. See you tonight.

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Online betting taxes the state, by Brian Robins - The Sydney Morning Herald - 5th December 2008

The State Government has been told it should allow bets on politics and reality TV shows like Australian Idol.

The call was made in a report on overhauling the betting and racing industry, which has fallen with the rise of internet betting.

But against a backdrop of dangerous gambling, the report warns the Rees Government to act with caution so as not to offend "good taste or community expectations".

Allowing betting on the outcome of court cases or sporting tribunal hearings should not be considered, for example.

The review by Alan Cameron, a former chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, advises the Government to give a newly constituted Casino, Liquor & Gaming Control Authority the power to select events for betting, "including political elections and reality television programs".

It also calls for a national overhaul of the betting industry to deal with the inroads made by internet betting.

Mr Cameron wants online betting exchanges such as Betfair, whose Australian operations are part-owned by James Packer, to be allowed to operate in NSW, even though it has been criticised for its limited contribution to the racing industry.

As a betting exchange, Betfair allows two people to bet against each other. It also allows people to bet a horse will not win a race, which has been criticised for encouraging corrupt practices.

The Government set up the Cameron review a year ago after the Herald disclosed that the then premier, Morris Iemma, had intervened to clear the way for Betfair's entry into NSW. Betfair succeeded in challenging advertising bans in legal action with the West Australian Government, which has opened the door for it to expand its operations.

"It is becoming increasingly problematic for any state to try operating independently with the entry of corporate bookmakers and the cross-border 'leaking' of revenue," the Gaming and Racing Minister, Kevin Greene, said when making the Cameron review public yesterday.

Boston Consulting Group estimated the Government was losing $14 million a year in gambling tax revenue due to internet gambling, and the racing industry lost $27 million.

Bookmakers and the TAB pay a racing industry levy that betting exchanges avoid.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Tabcorp facing competition probe - 21st November 2008

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is believed to be looking into alleged "third line forcing" by gaming group Tabcorp, as it is offering one clubs association in Victoria discounted access to Sky Channel horse racing coverage and denies this to the rival group. The issue is linked to the likely tenders for the new poker machines licence in Victoria.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Embracing the enemy, by Adrian Dunn - Herald Sun - 17th November 2008

Racing entered the dark side on Saturday. A place where shadowy people in trenchcoats, fedoras pulled down over their eyes, are capable of kneecapping jockeys quicker than you can say whobegotyou.

These unscrupulous people would have turned Australian racetracks into something like the south side of Chicago in the 1930s.

That was the murky scenario painted in 2004 if Betfair, a betting exchange where punters match bets, was allowed into Australia.

Remember those blazing headlines from spring 2004.

First, it was Andrew Ramsden, then chairman of the Australian Racing Board, who said there was a "strong probability" there would be a ban on English horses racing during the spring carnival if Betfair was not outlawed.

Robert Nason, then Racing Victoria Ltd chief executive, went further. He said he would have no hesitation in shutting down the spring carnival if it meant getting rid of Betfair.

Betfair had to be stopped at all costs. If not, we would see jockeys jumping off favourites under threat from drug lords set to rake in sugar bags full of dosh.

A national campaign, including the signatures of leading trainers and jockeys, was mounted to keep the evil Betfair at bay.

The fact that such a drive was illegal was lost in all the scaremongering.

Well, guess what?

As punters arrived at Betfair Park, formerly Sandown, on Saturday to usher in a new era, they did so with a backdrop of not one kneecapping or jockey jumping off a hot-pot.

We were told that Betfair would pillage our racing. How, then, do you explain the millions that Betfair is pouring, via its sponsorship deal, into the Melbourne Racing Club?

And, where will the money go? Into prizemoney, the MRC assures us.

More sponsorship money will be pumped into country clubs by Betfair. Is that a bad thing?

What about the "leakage" from Tabcorp?

Betfair pays a mutually agreed product fee to RVL.

Remember, Betfair wanted to be licensed in Victoria, but moved to Tasmania after being shunned.

Betting is vastly different today compared with five, 10, 20 years ago.

Punters demand more bang for their buck, so to speak. Clearly, they are not going to be force-fed poisonous odds or stale betting products.

Betfair - where punters match bets at fluctuating prices - is not for everyone. It has a boutique appeal.

Much has been made of punters backing or "laying" a horse to lose. Why? Punters have been betting against horses since well before Betfair became part of the punting fraternity.

Betting is all about choice. No one is forcing anyone to bet with Betfair, just as no one is forcing anyone to bet with corporate bookmakers or Tabcorp.

To suggest that Melbourne Racing Club's decision to enter a sponsorship deal with Betfair will bring down the curtain on racing as we know it is nonsense.

One more thing. Seven favourites won at Sandown, oops, Betfair Park, on Saturday.

All jockeys' knees are reportedly fine and the stewards report did not have one mention of a jockey jumping off a horse.

Tabcorp forecast threat to stake hike, by Adrian Dunn - Herald Sun - 18th November 2008

Proposed prizemoney increases for Victorian gallops meetings from February could be shelved if Tabcorp's revenue projections do not meet expectations.

Robert Nason, Tabcorp managing director of racing and media, will this month give the Racing Victoria Limited board an earnings forecast for the next 12 months.

RVL chief executive Rob Hines said yesterday the Tabcorp forecast would provide a telling insight on where prizemoney would go in 2009 and beyond.

Asked about the delivery of the promised prizemoney increases, scheduled for February 1, Hines replied: "I would say they are endangered. We are going to pull out every stop to make them happen, but I can't guarantee that.

"Much will depend on that forecast. It will be critical in deciding whether the prizemoney increases go ahead."

RVL announced on July 14 a two-phase $23.6 million prizemoney injection over the next two years, representing a 15 per cent increase on previous levels.

Included in the media release was the rider "should the performance from the joint venture meet expectations".

The first increase took effect on August 1.

The next planned increases would see country minimums lifted from $12,000 to $15,000 for Thursday and provincial one Sunday meetings.

Metropolitan midweek races and night races would rise to $30,000, while Saturday metropolitan races and feature night races would jump to $70,000.

Hines said the increases were always linked to Tabcorp turnover and the resultant revenue flowing into the industry.

He said if the turnover continued at its current level, the prizemoney increases would be implemented.

But Hines warned the impact of lifting advertising restrictions on corporate bookmakers could eat into TAB turnover.

"If the TAB forecasts indicate a major or large reduction in revenue, then it would be inappropriate and a mistake to increase prizemoney," Hines said.

"I'm hopeful it will be maintained, but I just can't give you that answer today.

"It would be irresponsible of me at this stage to say that we would definitely be able to go ahead until I see those numbers.

"We have been waiting for a forecast from them for a while, but the date is now set for them to deliver a presentation and forecast to tell us how they see the next 12 months."

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Punters have Gilly's stars in their eyes, by John Schell - The Sydney Morning Herald - 14th November 2008

TAB Sportsbet punters launched straight into the Adam Gilchrist-led All Stars to win tonight's Twenty20 match against Australia. "The first bet taken on the match was $5000 on the All Stars at $2.80 which was quickly followed by another bet of $2000 at those odds," TAB Sportsbet's Glenn Munsie said.

Gilchrist heads the most-runs market for the All Stars at $4, with Australia's Matthew Hayden at $4.50.

Sportingbet Australia has installed Australia as $1.40 favourites to win the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba, despite Ricky Ponting's men struggling in India.

"Australia were outplayed in India but will be a lot stronger at home and New Zealand are not in the same class as the Indians," Sportingbet boss Michael Sullivan said.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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A week for big heads, small bodies and giant gaffes, by Leaping Larry - The Age - 17th November 2008

UFC Countdown was an excellent promotional special building up the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title fight between UFC legend Randy Couture and former amateur wrestling champion and World Wrestling Entertainment star Brock Lesnar.

Verbal comedy was unexpectedly prominent. Apparently, Lesnar learned a trade during his professional wrestling stint.

He was in the make-up chair prior to a television appearance both fighters were making. You don't need much make-up, opined the lady responsible for such matters. Lesnar surmised: "Couture was in the chair for 45 minutes. She's got no materials left."

When the make-up technician began using an airbrush gun on him, he requested "pin-stripes".

UFC president Dana White chimed in, advising the expert, "You're going to need a bigger gun to do that whole head."

Somewhat unkind, but much like everything else about Lesnar that can be visually determined on a PG-rated basis, he really does have an unusually large scone.

Size was also the issue in a true landmark moment in Australian sport TV history on the weekend. Unfortunately, your correspondent missed it entirely. However, through the agency of our on-the-spot-via-armchair source, we can report that dwarf boxing has finally come to the dignified, if not hallowed, halls of Australian pay-TV boxing cards. Our reporter's terminology may lack for political correctness there, but isolating anything about such an enterprise that could be deemed politically correct would presumably require an electron microscope and an unearthly amount of patience.

One might have imagined that compromising the sporting purity of such suburban Leagues Club "fite-nite" extravaganzas — routinely featuring protagonists proudly daubed on chest and back with the names of various local concreters, used-car emporia, and houses of ill-repute — would have been a practical impossibility.

However, it has to be admitted that the advent of little-person boxing as a special feature attraction might just about do the trick.

From conceptual comedy back to the verbal, then — some quick highlights from the ATP Masters Cup match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Colour commentator Robbie Koenig, summarising his appreciation of the encounter: "I'm definitely giving this one my stamp of authority."

One would like to see that stamp, which presumably is similar to the kind of grading indication placed on meat by US food authorities. Well, either that, or he meant "stamp of approval".

And main commentator Jason Goodall: "It will increase his chances of winning the match expotentially (sic)."

Apparently, Jason attended maths classes about as religiously as the good folks at Main Event channel — who delayed the Couture-Lesnar screening until today so they could show replays of an Andre Rieu concert all day Sunday — turned up for Programming Priorities 101.

(Credit: The Age)

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gym members to flex muscles, by Edmund Tadros - The Sydney Morning Herald - 16th November 2008

Fitness centres are expected to face a backlash from consumers fed up with strict membership conditions as the Federal Government designs new policies to prevent unfair contracts and a new gym chain prepares to open.

The NSW Office of Fair Trading receives an average of one complaint a day about unfair gym contracts. Problems with ending memberships and obtaining refunds top the grievances.

Consumer advocates hope fitness chain, Virgin Active - which will only have no-contract memberships - will lead to a shake-up of an industry notorious for forcing customers to sign long-term contracts with onerous cancellation fees and conditions.

"Some gyms like to lock you in for a long term, which is something we always counsel people to be careful about," said Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn.

Virgin Active will open its first Australian branch in Frenchs Forest on December 15 and a branch in central Melbourne early next year. It hopes to attract more than 5000 members to each of its 4000-square-metre fitness centres, said managing director Mark Blackman.

The group, which operates more than 170 clubs in Europe and South Africa, will open another 20 sites around the country in the next five years. Monthly membership will cost about $90, in line with other fitness chains.

Gyms that rely on long-term contracts will be under further pressure when Australia's consumer laws are reformed.

The changes, agreed to at the October Council of Australian Governments meeting, will protect consumers nationwide from unfair contracts. Reforms are expected by the end of 2010, said federal Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Bowen.

The fragmented Australian fitness industry is dominated by Fitness First, the world's largest gym chain, which has 85 clubs around the country and more than 350,000 members.

The chain has been repeatedly criticised for signing members up to long-term contracts that are difficult to terminate, including cases where members who are too sick to train or have died have continued to have their accounts debited.

Fitness First member Kirsten Hymers said she was threatened with legal action when she tried to end her membership with the chain. The 22-year-old alleged she was never told her membership was for 12 months when she signed on in June and has refused to pay the chain back outstanding fees.

"They told me I was locked in," she said. "When I first joined, I was really into it. I haven't been for two months now."

Fitness First's national operations manager Michele Harding said Ms Hymers tried to cancel a contract early. Ms Hymers maintains she was never told about the minimum term of the contract.

Ms Harding said members "need [to] just write to us or make a time to see our customer care manager" before they could cancel a membership.

WHAT'S THE BEEF?
 Refunds (81).

 Charging above quotes or overcharging (26).

 Pricing or charges not listed (19).

 280 of the 364 complaints in the last year were resolved by the Office of Fair Trading.

Trading Source: NSW Office of Fair Trading.

Areas of contention Contract cancellations and cooling-off periods (134 complaints).

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fox in the third dimension of television, by Robert Lusetich - News.com.au - 10th November 2008

David Hill has seen the future of television, and it has a third dimension.

The Australian-born supremo of Rupert Murdoch's Fox Sports empire in the US says the illusion of depth will change the nature of television.

"The big (plasma) screens have made a huge difference to television viewing habits, no doubt.

"Maybe if HD (high definition) had not come along, the internet might have taken over but I don't think HD is necessarily going to save television. I have always thought that HD is just a stepping stone to 3D," he says.

"3D will change everything and it is not that far away from being reality."

Hill is among those who believe that 3D television that does not require viewers to don awkward 1950s-style glasses, will be on the market within a few years.

He has already begun experimenting with 3D broadcasts, renting the cameras from Titanic director James Cameron, who has been leading the Hollywood charge to 3D.

"The results have been fantastic," he says.

"For instance, I think it is going to save the sport of boxing. We did a very ordinary bout from one of the Indian casinos (in California) and it was unbelievable. You are right in there in the ring with these guys."

Hill concedes that "you do need awesome audio" to fully take in the experience, but adds that "overall, what I am seeing is unbelievable".

Across the entertainment spectrum, from filmmakers to studios to electronics giants, the race is on to bring 3D to the market. Cameron and fellow A-list directors Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are all working on 3D projects while Philips has said it hopes to introduce a HD, 3D TV within two years.

DreamWorks SKG co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg recently defended 3D from "Luddites" who say it is just a fad. "Digital 3D has arrived and, I believe, will eventually become the standard because, quite simply, human beings see in 3D," he says. "It's pretty breathtaking stuff. Digital 3D is very real, enriching the film-going experience in truly phenomenal ways.

"This is why many of the industry's greatest directors are currently working on 3D projects. "Initially, as with colour, the economic bar for 3D is high, so for the foreseeable future many films will continue to be produced in 2D. But, eventually, I believe that all films will be shot in this remarkable medium."

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bet his life on it: bookies hold Obama payout, by Nick O'Malley - The Sydney Morning Herald - 8th November 2008

At least two of Australia's largest corporate bookmakers are refusing to pay out on tens of thousands of bets laid on Barack Obama's victory - on the grounds that he may be killed before he is inaugurated.

An angry punter contacted the Herald saying he was told by a senior Sportsbet bookie that the company would not pay out until the inauguration in January in case the president-elect was shot before he took office.

The Sportsbet chief executive, Matt Tripp, denied assassination was the company's main concern.

"It might have been a figure of speech among five or six other things," he said of the conversation between his company and the gambler.

"God forbid he has a stroke or gets hit by a bus," said Mr Tripp, who said Sportsbet had taken 30,000 bets on Senator Obama. "I love the bloke. I want to pay out on him. I think he is good for America and good for the world."

Mr Tripp said that payment at the time of inauguration was clearly stated in the company's terms and conditions for the bet.

The punter, who placed a $2000 bet to win $200, confirmed stroke had also been mentioned when he rang to complain, along with the possibility that the senator could be hit by a bus.

A spokesman for Centrebet said it also would not pay out until the inauguration as a matter of policy.

"[Assassination] is a horrible thought but it could happen," said Neil Evans.

He said such precautions were unnecessary in Australia because bets were taken on parties rather than candidates.

Some overseas agencies were accepting bets at up to 400-1 for Senator Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, up until election day, suggesting people were punting directly on the possibility of an assassination, said Mr Evans.

Other Australian bookmakers, such as Betfair and Sportingbet, have made good their books.

The Irish bookie Paddy Power was so sure of the election outcome that it paid out Obama-backers $2 million last month.

Sportsbet courted controversy earlier this year when it was revealed the company had been cold-calling people with a recorded spiel offering $60 in free bets if they opened an account.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Big plunge a sure bet - Gold Coast Bulletin - 4th November 2008

Global financial crisis or not, it won't stop Australians of all ages and creeds from getting a bet on today in the country's favourite race -- the Melbourne Cup.

Betting agency Tabcorp expects to at least match its 2007 turnover of $159 million, but it's telling once-a-year punters to bet early.

If you're lucky enough to be among the 100,000-plus racegoers at Flemington to watch the race, there will be 575 TAB betting windows along with 140 self-service Easy Bet terminals. Punters at Flemington last year bet $11.5 million on the day.

Much of this year's plunge will go on English five-year-old Mad Rush which took over as outright favourite yesterday afternoon at $5, while compatriot Septimus is at $5.50.

In a field dominated by international horses, Zipping is the best fancied Australian at a lengthy $16 and has Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on his side, for dubious reasons.

Mr Rudd was asked at a Brisbane media conference what horse he tipped for the cup. He replied: "Why have I chosen Zipping? Because it's time to zip," and brought an end to the conference.

Like those at Flemington, the Coast will be wining and dining away the worries of the economic crisis as they cheer on their favourite horse and down more than their fair share of beer or bubbly today.

The platters are expected to be piled high and glasses overflowing at the Gold Coast Turf Club with sous chef David Banton ready to feed the army of racegoers.

More than 350kg of prawns, 500 dozen oysters and 350kg of fillet steak will be prepared and presented to feed the expected crowd of about 10,000.

Mr Banton said the current financial concerns had not deterred the crowds from turning out for one of the biggest social events of the year.

"It's like they always say, people seem to eat, drink and punt more when they have money troubles," he said. "We've been busy preparing all the food, with our work cut out for us tomorrow but it looks like it's going to be a great day all around."

At Conrad Jupiters, chefs are expecting to feed about 4000 people at two different events and four different restaurants.

The Marriott is also predicting a big turnout at their Cup festivities with event prices varying from $55 per person up to $135.

The chefs have ordered in 150kg of prawns, 1800 oysters, 1200 glasses of champagne, 780 glasses of wine as well as the piece de resistance of four spit-roasted suckling pigs featured in the Lagoon buffet.

At the Convention and Exhibition Centre there will be the Sea FM Centre of Melbourne Cup lunch hosted by radio hosts Moyra and Baggs with more than 900 expected.

Over at The Villa duty manager Shawn Elsmore said they would have a smaller crowd of 90.

"The chefs have spent five hours preparing canapes and they haven't even got to the cocktail part yet so it will be an early start for them tomorrow," he said.

Greg Tingle comment...

As many punters and switched on casino news media types know, the smartest money bet is being an insider and putting these things on, running an agency, or being on the payroll of TAB, Crown, EzyBet or something to that effect. At least before pending changes to Australian sports betting and online casino laws. That will be covered at CAP Down Under. I'm waiting for Virgin Games and PKR to launch animated horse racing betting. Given the technology now it's viable. The Mad Rush is on.

(Credit: The Gold Coast Bulletin)

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The smart money: Profound plunge on Irish Beauty, by Peter Cassidy - LiveNews.com.au - 4th November 2008

* Not an punter? Glenn Munsie from the TAB walks you through how to place your bet
* Does Mad Rush deserve to be favourite? Alan Jones talks to the TAB's Glenn Munsie

While Mad Rush seems to be punters' pick, the smart money in Melbourne this afternoon is tipped to be on another international. And why not? The mare's being ridden by 'The Boss'.

The legendary big race experience of Glen Boss, a three-time Cup champion jockey, seems to be steering the big players towards Irish raider Profound Beauty, but leading bookmaker Mark Read insists that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Read, whose agency IASbet yesterday took a bet of $500,000 to $70,000 with Tom Waterhouse, says Profound Beauty is a better racehorse is than Media Puzzle and is weighted perfectly.

"All the pros want to back it," Read told News Limited.

“She's a big Danehill mare. She's the same age as Makybe Diva before her first Cup win.

"At the weights I don't see how they can beat it. Dermot Weld has proven he knows exactly what's required, and the mail I've got is that she is absolutely flying on the track at Sandown."

Centrebet's Con Kafataris insists the training of Weld, whose successful Irish stable produced 2002 Melbourne Cup winner Media Puzzle, is a huge factor riding in Profound Beauty's favour.

So confident is he of Profound Beauty's grasp on the Cup, he's backed the mare to win more than $1 million.

"Some of the money is for a client, most of it is mine. I think she will run $7 or less," he told News Limited.

"With Dermot Weld as the trainer, you are backing the man as well as the horse."

The high-end plunge has firmed Profound Beauty from $8 to $7.50 with most leading bookmakers, while the TAB still has the Irish mare out at $9.10.

Mad Rush is holding favouritism at $5.70.

The Odds

RaceTAB odds for the Melbourne Cup

The Field

Septimus
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: J P Murtagh
Weight: 58.5kg

Master O'Reilly
Trainer: Danny O'Brien
Jockey: V Duric
Weight: 55kg

Honolulu
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: C O'Donoghue
Weight: 54.5kg

C'Est La Guerre
Trainer: J D Sadler
Jockey: B Prebble
Weight: 54kg

Nom Du Jeu
Trainer: M P Baker
Jockey: J Lloyd
Weight: 54kg

Yellowstone - Scratched

Zipping
Trainer: J D Sadler
Jockey: D Nikolic
Weight: 54kg

Mad Rush
Trainer: L M Cumani
Jockey: D Oliver
Weight: 53.5kg

Ice Chariot
Trainer: R E Maund
Jockey: M Rodd
Weight: 53kg

Viewed
Trainer: B Cummings
Jockey: B Shinn
Weight: 53kg

Littorio
Trainer: N A Blackiston
Jockey: S King
Weight: 52.5kg

Bauer
Trainer: L Cumani
Jockey: C Brown
Weight: 52kg

Boundless
Trainer: S J McKee
Jockey: G Childs
Weight 52kg

Gallopin
Trainer: D O'Brien
Jockey: J Winks
Weight: 52kg

Guyno
Trainer: L Luciani
Jockey: C Newitt
Weight 52kg

Zarita - Scratched

Newport
Trainer: P Perry
Jockey: C Symons
Weight: 51.5hg

Profound Beauty
Trainer: D Weld
Jockey: G Boss
Weight: 51.5kg

Red Lord
Trainer: A Cummings
Jockey: N Hall (a)
Weight: 51.5kg

Varevees
Trainer: R Gibson
Jockey: C Williams
Weight 51.5kg

Prize Lady
Trainer: G K Sanders
Jockey: M Sweeney
Weight: 51kg

Alessandro Volta
Trainer: A O'Brien
Jockey: W Lordan
Weight: 50.5kg

Barbaricus
Trainer: D O'Brien
Jockey: S Baster
Weight: 50.5kg

Moatize
Trainer: B Cummings
Jockey: Ms C Lindop
Weight: 50kg


As many punters and switched on casino news media types know, the smartest money bet is being an insider and putting these things on, running an agency, or being on the payroll of TAB, Crown, EzyBet or something to that effect. At least before pending changes to Australian sports betting and online casino laws. That will be covered at CAP Down Under. I'm waiting for Virgin Games and PKR to launch animated horse racing betting. Given the technology now it's viable. The Mad Rush is on.

(Credit: LiveNews.com.au)

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Moore action in Mactent - The Sydney Morning Herald - 3rd November 2008

Michael Evans finds love in the air while tent-hopping at Flemington.

It's pleasing to see fresh signs of openness at Macquarie Group. And we're not just talking about publishing advisory contracts of satellite funds.

As your diarist wandered the corporate area at Derby Day, glasnost was in the air at the Macquarie marquee. Gone were the walls and pot plants of past years to stop prying eyes; instead there was a clear view inside.

And who should be sitting at the window but a relaxed-looking Nicholas Moore.

Crisis? What crisis?

Moore spent the day playing host without an apparent care in the world. Studying the form guide, sipping a beer.

He leaned out the window to greet James Packer's former flatmate Matthew Csidei for a few words before Csidei headed into a neighbouring tent.

Perhaps Csidei was looking for Packer's Ellerston tent, which was just metres away last year. Rather prophetically, with Packer's Ellerston GEMS having disappeared from the market, so too had the tent vamoosed, with the plot not rented out this year.

But back to Moore, who chatted with a host of guests, among them the former Allco banana Peter Yates, who strapped on a chaff bag for a long stint in the tent.

While we did not spot Moore celebrating any successful, er, capital raisings, we see him take what appeared to be a tenner from his wallet before the last and head to the in-tent TAB to place a bet. Rather prophetically, it seems the capital injection came a bit late. The gates opened and Moore was left holding the tenner. Still, it's good to hold cash right now.

But we can only wonder about Moore's hunch bets for the day.

Perhaps, with an eye to the Macquarie share price, he had

No. 17 in the last, Count To Zero. Or No. 5, Tears I Cry. Maybe he had an eye on Fighting Fund or Keen Commander in the ninth. Or Captain Fantastic in the fifth. Our tip was in the fourth - Think Money.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Betting's new dawn, by Dan Silkstone - The Age - 31st October 2008

The race to lure punters has been thrown wide open by new betting regulations and, as Dan Silkstone reports, debate rages about who will be the winners and the losers.

It is the race that stops a nation, reaches into its back pocket and removes $50. On Tuesday, Australia will go gambling crazy — the Melbourne Cup is the biggest punting day of the year by some considerable margin. And as the big race begins, they will jostle for position, fi ghting hard for a victory that will bring one of the richest purses in sport. Not the horses, that is. The bookies.

Victorian racing is in the grip of a gambling revolution as recent law changes have opened up a fl ood of new competition. The battle to sign up punters is getting bloody.

Since 2006, interstate and internet-based corporate bookmakers have been offering "tote odds" in Victoria — duplicating the prices of the monopoly tote operated by Tabcorp but offering a 5% bonus.

The corporates can do so because they pay far less back into racing than Tabcorp — less than 1% of turnover compared with the tote’s return of six cents in the dollar.

Racing authorities have warned that as the tote loses market share, a crisis looms for future race funding. The corporates say they are happy to contribute, as long as the price is fair.

But everything changed again only three weeks ago when the Victorian and NSW Governments suddenly lifted restrictions prohibiting corporate bookmakers from advertising in mainstream media and sponsoring races and events.

The result is a flood of money rushing into advertising as at least 10 companies fight for brand recognition, punters’ patronage and market share.

"Everyone right now is getting pretty ruthless competing for advertising space and exposure," says Centrebet’s Neil Evans.

"There’s a massive land grab on at the moment," agrees Andrew Twaits, chief executive of rival operator Betfair. There is big money at stake. Last year — a bad one for punting because of equine influenza — the Victorian and NSW TABs took $1.36 billion during Victoria’s spring racing carnival, more than $150 million of it on Cup Day alone.

The overall amount punted this year should be considerably higher, but most in the industry believe that a growing share will go to the interstate internetbased corporates.

Despite tough times, everyone expects a lucrative week.

"Betting is recession-proof — it’s often said, but I think it’s true," Evans says.

"In difficult times, people drink more and they bet more," Sportsbet’s Matt Tripp agrees.

"They seem to turn to the punt if the pressure is on."

All of the big corporate bookmakers have invested heavily in billboards, newspaper and other media advertisements, trying to convince punters used to betting at a pub or TAB to try the online experience.

"Competition is now furious, and where you have competition, you have got big money," Evans says.

"The gambling world has finally woken up."

"The corporates are thriving in the new environment but the TAB is struggling," says Tripp.

"They simply haven’t got the product that the corporates can offer and, with the advertising now, punters are being made aware of that."

Sportsbet alone turned over about $1 billion last year. This year, it is aiming for $1.5 billion.

Amid it all, racing authorities warn of calamity as the corporates strip revenue away from the tote — the source of more than 90% of racing’s funding.

Tabcorp’s Rob Nason says the tote’s market share has fallen from 95% in Victoria to about 72% in five years. The current advertising blitz is expected to worsen that situation.

Racing Victoria Ltd and the Victoria Racing Club have joined Tabcorp in calling on the State Government to enforce Victorian laws preventing interstate operators offering tote odds.

If, as seems likely, the state cannot do so, they want Racing Minister Rob Hulls to pressure the Federal Government to intervene.

"If the State Government doesn’t believe it has the capacity to regulate that, then we are suggesting the Federal Government get involved," Nason says.

Hulls said yesterday he was powerless to prevent tote odds being offered from interstate, but he would take the matter up with fellow racing minsters when they meet in Melbourne in December and would push for the matter to be referred to the Federal Government.

VRC chief Dale Monteith also wants the State Government to investigate the promotions being offered by some operators during the current orgy of advertising, saying that offers of up to $1000 in free bets in exchange for signing up were a nightmare for efforts aimed at curbing problem gambling.

"Some of those ads, the State Government needs to consider what is responsible gambling when people are offering free bets of up to $1000 for signing up an account," he said.

"They (interstate bookmakers) have got no knowledge of what responsible gambling is, and you only have to look at their ads to see that."

Hulls said he had asked his department to keep an eye on the advertising free-for-all as the Government prepared new guidelines to be implemented next year.

"I want to send a very clear message to bookmakers who want to advertise that it won’t be open slather. It will only be allowed if it is responsible," he said.

Tripp said a race for market share had started.

"It might come down to who has the deepest pockets," he said. "Since the gloves came off, we have spent $3 million and will probably spend $3 million more before the year is out."

The change is already happening. On Cox Plate day, Centrebet’s turnover was up by almost 20% on last year. For Tabcorp and its tote, the take was substantially down.

Centrebet alone expects to take about $2 million on the Melbourne Cup and $5 million for the day. The number of punters using this one site will be measured in the tens of thousands.

Betfair has less than 1% of the market, but expects, with the relaxing of advertising rules, to grab a 5% share in coming years. It is hoping for a turnover increase of about 30% this year.

"This (the advertising change) will help generate a lot of interest in the carnival, more than in previous years," Twaits says.

RVL chief Rob Hines says it is inevitable that the pressure on the tote will worsen. Monteith said the tote odds offered by the interstaters were obscene.

"We cannot survive off the back of fixed-odds betting . . . They are offering us about 0.66% of turnover whereas we are getting about 4.4% out of the tote," he said.

"If there is more inaction, we are going to see money siphoned out of the racing industry. It is happening now and the figures are not insignificant."

Hines says one solution is for the sport to make more money from television and other media rights, creating new products and selling them better.

"The AFL do a terrific job of bringing all the games into one package of media, which they then sell on," he said.

Tabcorp has responded within the past month by setting up its own Darwin-based offshoot, Luxbet, to replicate the interstate competitors’ model. Already, it has 7000 customers.

"Something like 95% of racing’s funding comes from the tote," Nason says.

"Unquestionably, we are expecting to have a significant loss of market share because we just cannot compete on price with someone who does not make the same contribution to the racing industry."

ALL BETS ARE ON

THE KEY PLAYERS

CENTREBET
BIG Darwin operator that offers odds on everything from elections to Olympics. The first agency to offer online betting in Australia (in 1996). Keen to sponsor sporting teams and race meetings to gain exposure.

TABCORP
GAMBLING giant privatised in 1994 and charged a licence fee for monopoly to run Victoria’s tote. Now competing with a range of interstate online operators who pay lower fees back to the industry. Contributes $300 million a year to racing industry.

SPORTSBET
DARWIN-BASED company run by bookmaker Matt Tripp that claims to be the biggest of the corporates with turnover of $1 billion last year.

BETFAIR
A DIFFERENT model, based in Tasmania, that allows punters to lay odds with each other, similar to a stock exchange. Also pioneering in-race betting.

LUXBET
NEW Darwin-based enterprise started by Tabcorp to compete with the interstate corporates. One month old and already has 7000 customers.

BETSTAR
NORTHERN Territory-based corporate owned by former Melbourne bookmakers Alan and Michael Eskander.

BETEZY
SMALLER, Darwin-based company offering betting on racing and other sports.

SPORTINGBET AUSTRALIA
DARWIN-BASED corporate online and phone bookmaker, an offshoot of the Britishbased company Sportingbet. Is regarded as one of the bigger operators, betting on racing, sports and politics.

(Credit: The Age)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten's tilt at 24-hour sports channel, by Caroline Wilson - The Age - 28th October 2008

A 24-Hour sports channel to be launched next year on free-to-air television will revolutionise the Australian broadcasting landscape.

The Ten Network is set to next month lay down the gauntlet to Fox Sports and its free-to-air rivals when it unveils that its high-definition channel will televise Australian and international sport 24 hours a day.

While Ten executives remained tight-lipped last night, it is believed their subtle but systematic campaign of buying major sporting events continued last week in Monaco at Sportel — the international trade show of sporting rights.

Not only has Ten just outbid Nine to win the television rights to Australian swimming, but among the network's new trump cards are the US NBA basketball, the US Major League baseball. Ten also holds the rights to the US Open golf and tennis championships and the US Masters golf.

Ten also recently spent a reported $10-15 million buying the rights to India's IPL Twenty20 cricket for five years..

The 2009 AFL grand final will also be simulcast on Ten's HD channel, and Ten will extend its AFL coverage to include a Monday night review program to be hosted by Stephen Quartermain.

The program will feature football expert Robert Walls, who has quit the award-winning Fox Sports program On The Couch after seven years to help spearhead the new channel's football coverage.

The network has also bought the rights to the Trans-Tasman Netball League, with former AFL star Luke Darcy to host its netball coverage. Darcy will also have an expanded football role.

Although Ten has been devising its high-definition sporting strategy for at least 12 months, it has refused to divulge the extent of its sporting assault.

In a further blow to pay television, the free-to-air body Free TV is scheduled to later this week announce "Free View", a free-to-air electronic program guide showing all schedules on all five channels, including high-definition, in the manner of the Foxtel guide, which operates from a set-top box for pay TV subscribers.

Currently, the HD channels, with the exception of Channel Two, predominantly mirror what is being shown on the main channels but with superior picture quality.

An estimated 15% of Australian televisions can show HD. Most new televisions come with HD capacity, while set-top boxes can be purchased to convert other televisions.

Ten's coup has been the brainchild of its national sport supremo David White, who first master-minded the break-up of the AFL TV broadcast rights for the 2002-2006 period, and will see his network show eight of ten AFL grand finals over the decade ending in 2011.

White, who returned from his network's buying trip in Europe over the weekend, refused to comment last night.

The new channel is expected to start early in 2009, with a launch expected in mid-November.

Ten also owns the rights to Formula One Grand Prix events, the Nascar series including the Daytona 500, and has been televising the World Golf Championship events.

(Credit: The Age)

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Betting terminals in clubs spark problem gambling fear , by Peter Kerr - The West Australian - 26th October 2008

New self-service TAB betting machines could go into community and sporting clubs across WA, particularly in country areas, under a plan by Racing and Wagering WA.

It has been trying the new machines, on which punters bet on horse races, over the past 18 months.

Financial counsellors said it would lead to an increase in gambling-related social problems.

The terminals are aimed at making it viable for licensed country clubs in particular to have a betting venue by eliminating the need for staff to run the service.

Clubs WA said it wanted the terminals put in at least 50 community venues such as bowling and sporting clubs over the next two years.

The Australian Hotels Association said many of its members also were keen to install the machines.

RWWA chief executive Richard Burt said the machines could be put only in licensed premises which had to pass a strenuous social audit which involved RWWA writing to local financial councillors and police to ensure that the terminals would not have an adverse impact. They also had to be vetted by the Gaming and Wagering Commission.

“Because we haven’t had self-service terminals before, it means that hotels or clubs that couldn’t previously justify having someone stand there and take bets, because it’s a fairly low margin business, this suddenly becomes interesting to them,” he said. “We are transitioning from serviced venues and we’re adding a few more (terminals) where sporting and bowling clubs in particular put their hands up and say yes we want to have one.”

Mr Burt said requests from clubs would determine how many machines went into service but he expected about 20 new venues over the next two years, equal to less than 10 per cent of the TAB network.

Clubs WA executive director Peter Seaman said at least 50 clubs were interested. “They are an ideal tool for community clubs,” he said. They would strengthen local clubs which provided a social outlet and helped people feel part of their community. The peer aspect of clubs would ensure there were effective constraints on gambling, unlike the wave of internet betting options available.

New figures show that demand for gambling-related counselling services at Centrecare jumped more than 20 per cent in 2007, after remaining steady for the previous five years.

The Barnett Government has adopted the Carpenter government’s gambling policy, saying it would maintain the ban on poker machines at Burswood Casino and would not allow them in pubs and clubs.

Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron said yesterday he supported Racing and Wagering’s plan because there was a well-defined approvals process that examined any public interest issues.

Shadow racing minister Mick Murray said he saw no problem with the new machines, given that they would be in licensed premised and allowed gambling breaks between races, unlike poker machines.

Centrecare team leader Amanda Cole said that despite stringent controls on the gambling industry and on new venues, any increase would lead to a rise in problem gambling.

She said about 2 per cent of Australian’s had a gambling problem, defined as a person spending more they could afford in time or money on gambling pursuits. It had an insidious effect in the rest of their lives, be it relationship problems or ability to study and work.

(Credit: The West Australian)

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Tabcorp boss tells states to clean up act, by Michael Manley - Herald Sun - 24th October 2008

TABCORP chief executive Elmer Funke-Kupper has called for Federal Government intervention to take control of Australia's wagering markets.

Funke-Kupper also hinted that before Tabcorp committed to bidding for the next exclusive parimutuel licence from 2012, the wagering structure in Australia would have to change.

He said that Tabcorp's preference would be a structure with clearly enforceable licence conditions.

Speaking at yesterday's Tabcorp annual general meeting, Funke-Kupper said if states could not control their wagering markets, "then we may need to find a solution at the federal level".

"Perhaps the Federal Government should assume responsibility for the regulation of the wagering markets if the states are not able to implement effective regulations that apply across state borders," Funke-Kupper said.

"We will study the licence conditions carefully when they are made public."

Funke-Kupper's main complaint was with Northern Territory corporate bookmakers offering tote odds.

He said that deregulation should create a level playing field, but it should have two non-negotiable conditions.

The first was the prohibition of tote odds by bookmakers. He said that was critical to the funding of the racing industry.

"Unfortunately, to date there has been no move to prohibit tote odds betting. There is no doubt that continued inaction will hurt the industry in the years to come," Funke-Kupper said.

"The second condition is the charging of adequate product fees to all wagering operators.

"New South Wales has recently introduced a new product fee regime that we believe is a step in the right direction."

(Credit: Herald Sun)

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

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Sorry, Melbourne, but Cup outsiders are here to stay, by Jacquelin Magnay - The Sydney Morning Herald - 25th October 2008

Why is it that crossing the Murray River turns normal sane, rational people into possessive, insular and territorial characters? Suddenly, with nine "international raiders" vying for a start in the Melbourne Cup, the locals down south - punters and racing folk alike - are crying foul.

For what? Exclusive access to the $5.65 million prizemoney? Undivided attention from the 130,000 Flemington racecourse crowd, most of whom won't actually see the race anyway? A better chance of winning?

For some inexplicable reason, Victorians have embraced the Melbourne Cup like they do their AFL footy and made their feelings known: none of these foreigners are welcome.

Earlier this week, a colleague from Melbourne made the bold statement that the interest in this year's Cup was waning - his words not mine - because of the overseas horses. He says the local "connectedness" and the history of the race, being very much Melbourne-centric, is being diluted, to its detriment.

I think he forgot that some of the horses most associated with the race, especially in the early years, came from Sydney and the great Sydney trainer Bart Cummings has won 11 of the cups with his horses.

Up here in NSW, my exclusive straw poll of punters at the Brumby Bar in Jindabyne, the Beach Road Hotel at Bondi Beach and the office at Pyrmont can reveal the impact of the international horses on the interest in the race is zero. Sara, Jess and Jordanna will still back the greys, lucky No.5 or the horses with pretty names; Brucie will consider the internationals in his astute betting "but only if they have an Australian jockey, because the international jockeys get lost in the race". Brad will controversially back every horse that Irish trainer Dermot Weld brings out, "because they can run the distance but it is the unknown that often gets up, usually the stablemate".

No one mentioned they weren't interested in the race because Irish, English, American and Kiwi horses were involved. Indeed, who of you knew, before the race was run in 2006, that Delta Blues and Pop Rock were Japanese horses? Vintage Crop was the first international horse to win the race back in 1993 (although Let's Elope, which won in 1991, was bred overseas) and ever since there has been a desire by international connections to conquer the Cup.

And why shouldn't they? The swish racing in-crowd, wearing their designer dresses, useless stilettos that sink in the mud and hats that spear and spike, are quite happy to drink imported French champagne, imported bottle water and swan between global brand marquees without a patriotic thought. And the last time I looked, Emirates, the race's major sponsor, wasn't an airline born in the backblocks of the dusty Queensland outback either. Yet its privileged guests in its lavish tent will enjoy the best of everything.

So what are those Victorians complaining about? The great Irish horse Septimus is race favourite and will be backed by hundreds of thousands. All the Good, another Irish four-legged star, has already claimed the Caulfield Cup, just ahead of the Kiwi stayer Nom Du Jeu. Earlier this week, another Irish horse, Bauer, won the Geelong Cup.

The international horses come to Melbourne because of the prizemoney that filters down through the field, basically paying for the costs of the travel for horses finishing midfield. The commitment to send horses here was made months ago when the dollar was much higher, but the desire is still there.

The Melbourne Cup stops a nation but its prestige is growing so wildly that in other parts of the world it stops boardrooms (when Media Puzzle won in 2002, owner Tony Smurfit was in Paris presiding over budget meetings for his paper packaging company). And what's wrong with that?

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cutajar's Cup now overflowing, by Mike Gandon - Illawarra Mercury - 23rd October 2008

Illawarra martial arts exponent Mick Cutajar has won his third World Cup jiu-jitsu title in eight years at the Olympic State Sports Centre, Homebush, last Sunday.

Cutajar, who was crowned grand champion, had previously won a World Cup jiu-jitsu title in 2000, 2004 and now this year.

For Cutajar, this World Cup may be his last in jiu-jitsu now that he has completed last Sunday's event on such a high note.

The previous weekend Cutajar won gold at the Kodokan national judo titles at Tweed Heads PCYC.

This is a major achievement as the two disciplines of judo and jiu-jitsu are vastly different despite a common belief that they are similar.

Two of Illawarra's brightest prospects, Jana Nicholaou, 14, and Logan Gonzalez, 10, also backed up from their success at the Kodokan judo nationals to win at the Sydney World Cup jiu-jitsu tournament.

At the Australian Kodokan judo titles, Jana won two gold medals and a silver then one week later backed up to win gold in the under 15 division in Sydney.

Logan won two gold and one silver at the Kodokan judo nationals before winning his junior division, the under 10, at the World Cup jiu-jitsu event seven days later.

"I was very happy with both Jana and Logan," Cutajar said.

"It is extremely difficult to compete at a high level for weeks on end."

Credit: Illawarra Mercury

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