If your household is anything like mine, I’ve got five bucks that says your kids now know a hell of a lot more than they did about gambling before this summer of cricket on Channel Nine.

Ed Cowan, currently paying $18 for having run two without the loss of a wicket. Photo: The Australian

This year’s cricket coverage became one of the most effective vehicles for obsessive gambling the nation has seen.

I am a long way from being a wowser, I enjoy the odd punt and am a frequent and enthusiastic visitor to the greyhounds, always with the kids in tow. But the nature of the outlays being offered on Nine through its new commercial betting partner has not only been incessant, but a bit of an insult to everyone’s intelligence, as so much of it was framed around the kind of moronic chance-based exotic betting which is about as sophisticated as punting on the time-honoured two flies up a wall.

It is impossible to exaggerate the ease with which the details of these ludicrous wagers are absorbed by kids. My son is six years old and by the end of the New Year’s Test in Sydney he had become something of a global expert on the world of exotic betting, due to the many scenarios which were the subject of markets, spruiked constantly between overs on Channel Nine.

Some of the bets were so dopey that you expected them to start giving odds on whether Michael Clarke would get another tattoo, whether they’d serve Gatorade, Powerade or margaritas during the drinks break, or whether Ed Cowan would smash Inzamam Ul Haq’s record and actually run out his entire team through his zany YES NO YES NO NOOOOOOOO approach to running between wickets.

As a kid I can remember rabbiting on endlessly to Dad about statistics or asking him to come out the front with a tennis ball so I could try to replicate John Dyson’s catch in the deep. A generation on, so much of the conversation with my own son this summer was about how they would “give” you (his term) $1.40 if Michael Clarke made more than 50 in the second innings.

This is the problem with this type of betting, and with its unfettered promotion in an environment such as a cricket broadcast which is aimed in equal parts at adults but also at really young kids. Kids have no sense of the reality surrounding this type of betting. It is different from taking them along to the races or the dishlickers a few times a year where you tell them it’s something special, where you spend a couple of bucks each way on a handful of races, have a nice meal at the carvery, and tell them that there is nothing wrong with heading out occasionally to have a flutter when you are actually at the track.

The type of betting being promoted through Channel Nine is ever-present, immediate and impulsive, and designed to be done on an iPhone, which as every parent knows is something which any decent six-year-old can use to the point of mastery. Kids end up thinking that if you guess the right answer some nice person out there in the ether will “give” you money. If only that were the case.

From the arsenal of nanny state advertising on our television screens, one of the most effective ads involves the bloke getting on the squirt at a family barbecue, singing out to his son “cmon mate get Dad another beer”. It’s not a bad ad, I suppose, in that it reminds parents that this kind of behaviour while innocuous on the surface does serve to legitimise binge-drinking in the eyes of the kiddies. No-one seems to be applying the same type of approach to the question of gambling though. As Julie Barnes wrote on the website Mamamia this week, when she took her eight-year-old son to the Boxing Day Test, there were ropes at the beer queues to make sure that kids didn’t get close to the grog, and rightly so, yet between overs the screen was telling everyone to get on and have a lash on whatever absurd set of odds had been cooked up.

Equally, writing in Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Friday, Patrick Carlyon made the good point about the absurdity of the little mandated catchcry – “Remember, Always Gamble Responsibly” – when the character of the bets on offer was so daft as to be innately irresponsible.

The weird thing about all this constant exotic betting is that in Australia we will smugly tut-tut about the parlous state of gambling in a country such as India. It has long been argued that the problem in India has stemmed principally from the offering of exotic bets – that is, on things like the number of no balls bowled. Not only does it give people a chance to bet on something which requires no knowledge at all of the game, but it also creates the circumstances where players and administrators will be massively tempted to get involved in corrupt and covert punting.

As I said at the start, a wowser I am not. We have enough laws already in this country, and between grog, smokes and road safety, there is enough nanny state advertising kicking around to keep the ad agencies flush with cash into the next century. What interests me is the extent to which so many things are restricted or regulated, and the fact that this relatively new industry is not. To that end, the summer of 2012-2013 is likely to mark the high watermark for these cowboys who would turn all of us, young and old, into webbed-up, cash-poor gambling tragics who did our dough on whether Nathan Lyon would bat twice at the SCG, and whether he’d be wearing a cap, a hat or a sombrero when he took the crease.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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    • GOT HIM !!!! says:

      07:23am | 13/01/13

      2/1 Mitchell Johnson models his @$re before the season is over. 3/1 Micheal Clarke dump his wife and marry his spartan bat.


      07:26am | 13/01/13

      5/1 Ed Cowan makes the slowest half century in the history of test cricket.

    • VVS says:

      09:40am | 13/01/13

      Ever heard of England’s Chris “the tortoise” Tavare?

    • Seano says:

      07:39am | 13/01/13

      5 bucks says I can’t wait for the Rugby League to start.

    • sunny says:

      11:05am | 13/01/13

      Give me generous odds and you’re on.

    • Seano says:

      01:32pm | 13/01/13

      I’ll give you a gazillion to one…now where’s my 5 bucks?

      “I love my footy!”

    • sunny says:

      03:25pm | 13/01/13

      5 gazillion! That’s a no-brainer, you’re on.

      “I love my footy!” - with a gazillion to one at stake, I’ll hire Benji Marshall himself to crap in your letter box, and whatever else it takes to win that bet!

    • Gregg says:

      07:49am | 13/01/13

      Yep, certainly seems to be a go gamble overkill Penbo but I must admit that I might have developed an internal auto turn off when the Ads come on for they do not stay registered on the mind too much and having a good book handy can help for you can usually fit a page in between overs.
      So this is one stray the cowboys will not be lassooing though odds like ” Ed Cowan, currently paying $18 for having run two without the loss of a wicket. ” does look attractive if it is for just doing it once from the start of his innings.
      Then again, he needs to keep his place!

      If it was for Phil Hughes not to be involved in another run out, that might be something else!

      I reckon you might be developing a case you will need to be prepared for David when those kids start doing some sums and say hey Dad!, just think how much money we could bet if you were not paying for all our admittances and the meal and then we could really make some loot with that guy wanting to give money away.

    • cdlr says:

      08:17am | 13/01/13

      i dont watch cricket and i dont gamble do i need help ? i feel so un ozzie

    • Gregg says:

      08:37am | 13/01/13

      As long as you’re using all that spare time and cash for a rooting tooting drinking good time, you’ll get by until the footy season.

    • Ziggy says:

      08:36am | 13/01/13

      Excellent article!
      As a country we must have, by far, the greatest number of non enforced laws and regulations than any other country except, of course, for parking and speeding.
      Our Corporations Law is more than twice the size of the US but our transgressions much wider and largely unpunished. ASIC, ACCC are not toothless tigers. They have the law but lack the ability and the skill needed to enforce them.
      Our labelling laws are just a joke. Pages and pages of red tape and we still have no idea of whats actually in a product or where it was made or came from.Recently I discovered that Made in New Zealand is now virtually the same as Made in China - so much for the brand of PURE NZ! They are free to ruin their country but not ours, thank you.
      Self regulation via Codes of Conduct are a waste of time as well e.g. scanning “errors” are extremely common in retailers and a customer will not receive the treatment they are entitled to under that particular code. I know because I helped write them at the time.
      Lets start with getting these gambling promoters under some sort of control using the existing laws and community power.Writing another law will not work.
      Its always about enforcement. Try that first. We have enough legislation.

    • Brad says:

      11:02am | 13/01/13

      I’d rather watch Question time…

    • Angry_Of_Mayfair says:

      02:29pm | 13/01/13

      At least Question Time has some action.

    • PJs Ronin says:

      11:41am | 13/01/13

      You are incorrect… please send the $5 to the Cat Haven in Perth.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      12:44pm | 13/01/13

      Nine are single handedly responsible for my lack of interest in modern cricket.

      They’ve dumbed the game down, and commercialised it to such an extent that it’s barely a “sport” any longer.

      It’s merely a money-making vehicle for ex-cricketers, and Nine shareholders.

      If (if!) I do bother watching these days, it’s always with the sound off, and with the ads skipped on the DVR.

      Otherwise, I just listen to the ABC coverage on the radio.

    • Gough says:

      01:38pm | 13/01/13

      Not prepared to publish my comment? Truth hurts. Weak as piss.

    • He spit the dummy says:

      03:21pm | 13/01/13

      u mad, bro?

    • TheFatMan says:

      02:10pm | 13/01/13

      Better send me $5 then…... I can only think of 3 games either sillier or mind numbingly boring than 5 day cricket and I’m far from convinced the 1 dayers aren’t rigged.

    • Leonard says:

      02:28pm | 13/01/13

      The problem with “I’m not a wowser but I don’t like X” is that no one thinks they’re a wowser,  they just want one or two things changed here or there

      Tip: if you want the gubment to stop people doing something because you don’t like it you’re a wowser. You might choose to stop your kids watching and that’s fine, but calling for government involvement means you’re an raider to the nanny state

    • Rant-o-Saurus says:

      03:39pm | 13/01/13

      I’ve got a crazy idea. Why don’t YOU, as a parent, actually do your job and explain to your children the whole notion and idea of betting as you see it?
      But no, that’s much too difficult. You’d rather do what everyone seems to be doing these days, and relying on the government/schools/wider society/the Internet to do the job for you!

    • Peter says:

      04:11pm | 13/01/13

      I can’t stand the term nanny state. The laws are there to be obeyed. Now certainly there are always going to be laws that are out of date or just plain silly but on the whole most do makes sense. We’ve all been caught with some kind of traffic infringement but truth be told, it’s our fault and not the cops or government.  It’s this attitude of having a go at the nanny state that had led to governments to use advertising instead of enforcing current laws properly.
      As far as exotic gambling is concerned, it’s proved to be detrimental to the game in India and led to the ruin of many lives. Most of us can ignore the incessant advertising pushing us to make these bets but not all of us. In this case a law that is enforced to stop exotic bets would be like a mate blocking an obnoxious d!(&he;@d at the pub or for those with a gambling habit it would be not letting a mate drive when he’s had a few too many.
      It’s this attitude has led governments and law enforcement on all levels to enforce current laws with less gusto than they should. It is only a perception but maybe the fear being branded as being heavy handed which is only occasionally in vougue. This seems to give big business the green light to flaunt the laws and make themselves a fortune including big bonuses for themselves personally.
      If you don’t like a law get it changed!

    • james says:

      05:22pm | 13/01/13

      you owe me 5 bucks


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