Thursday, December 25, 2008

Watch the cricket... without the gambling

Christmas holidays in Australia brings all those certainties of life - the Sydney to Hobart, the threat of bushfires, crowds at post-Christmas sales and of course, cricket.

I love the cricket. I love the ebb and flow of the game, the personalities, the careers that develop and wane, and the long-lasting tension. I even love some of the gadgets that Channel Nine come up with to 'improve' our viewing. The 'hot spot' is great.

But unfortunately this year a new feature has crept in which, although popular, is at best unhelpful, and at worst, downright dangerous.

It seems that Channel 9 has stitched up a deal with a major online betting provider, and as part of the deal, they seem obliged to regularly mention the current market on who is going to win, what is going to be the score etc. Apart from this being annoying, it is yet again an invitation for people to throw away their money, thinking that they might gain a quick and easy reward.

Australia clearly has a problem with gambling - the basic statistics of $/head gambled, number of poker machines etc demonstrate that. But the problem is far greater that an economic one - with major family and social dislocation resulting in the vast majority of problem gambling cases.

Please Channel 9 - get a social conscience and drop the deal. Please everyone, enjoy the cricket - but keep your credit card in your pocket.

(By the way - do you think we are witnessing Hayden's last series??)

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