Australian broadcaster spoils Sportsbet’s election night tie prop bet

sportsbet-laurie-oakes-tie-prop-betAn Australian journalist’s sartorial sabotage has made a mockery of a novelty bet offered by online betting operator Sportsbet.

Saturday’s federal election was a nail-biter that is still being contested via the counting of overseas and absentee ballots. It remains to be seen whether the Liberal-National coalition maintains its grip on power or whether Labor will take the reins.

Both parties are furiously lobbying the handful of elected independent senators whose support may be required to tilt the balance of power. One of these senators is notorious anti-gambling campaigner Nick Xenophon, who could extract further gambling restrictions – like, say, eliminating prop betting – as the price for his support.

Election coverage on Nine Network was led by veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes, whose election night choice of tie color was the subject of a prop bet offered by Paddy Power’s down under division Sportsbet. And when Nine’s election coverage began, the punters who’d wagered on a red tie were celebrating their hard-won spoils.

However, after a commercial break or two, Oakes was seen sporting a green tie. A little later, Oakes’ tie morphed into a bright yellow, then a navy blue striped number, then black, and finally a grey and black pattern. All told, Oakes wore six different ties – one for each choice Sportsbet had offered.

Recognizing an unplanned publicity coup when they saw it, Sportsbet took the chicanery in good stride, paying out on all bets placed on the Oakes tie market. Sportsbet even sent Oakes a “well played” note, along with a new tie, for which it has already opened a market on the likelihood of Oakes wearing it during the next election’s coverage.

Oakes, who claimed to have been acting as the “punters’ protector” on Saturday, later told the media that he’d been aware of Sportsbet’s prop bet going into election night, leading him to ask himself “why should anyone miss out?” Why indeed.

Ironically, Oakes’ gaming of the system came the same week that the UK Gambling Commission warned its licensees about the potential pitfalls of offering novelty betting markets in which the outcome is likely to be known before the result is formally announced.