High level of in-play betting on the Australian Open is expected to put pressure on the Australian government to speed up Interactive Gambling Act review.
William Hill has become the first bookmaker to partner with a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Its sponsorship with the Australia Open, which according to reports cost $5 million, is part of Hills’ effort to extend the range of its in-play products to tennis fans.
“Tennis is a key product for In-Play and William Hill Australia will continue to extend its product range to include the ability to live-stream matches and bet in-play around these events,’’ William Hill said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, electronic advertising boards, similar to those around the MCG and Etihad Stadium, have been installed inside Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena. The boards will show William Hill’s ads during breaks in play as well as commercials from other sponsors.
William Hill will also work with event broadcaster Channel 7 via an exclusive media rights package with television and digital coverage.
The agreement includes sponsorship of the Emirates Australian Open Series, covering of the Hopman Cup in Perth, the Brisbane International, Apia International Sydney, Hobart International and the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide, all official lead-in events to the first Grand Slam of the year.
William Hill has agreed not to promote in-play betting on TV but issued a press release on Friday saying that the bookmaker is preparing for unprecedented levels of betting on the first round of the Grand Slam event, which will run from 18th to 31st January.
Australia is waiting for Barry O’Farrell’s report on the review of the Interactive Gambling Act along with the federal government’s respond, which could be released as early as this month.
Amid the allegations that match fixing is widespread at the top level of world tennis, critics said the deal represented a problematic deepening of ties between tennis and gambling.
Australian senator Nick Xenophon called William Hill’s Open partnership a “completely inappropriate for a sport marketed at families.” He also called on Tennis Australia to show that Australian tennis is clean.
Monash University gambling researcher Dr. Charles Livingstone believes that the gamblification of tennis could help fuel match-fixing by making it easier for fixers to hide their activities.