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ACT Gambling and Racing Commission are as bad as the shysters they 'regulate'

Scathing, and perfectly accurate, article about the Sports Alive debacle from a former colleague Matt Fisk. The licensing authority's lame reaction to this has been nothing short of pathetic. The rest of Australia has built up rigid standards in the protection of punters, the monitoring of licensed persons and companies etc and the ACT has let Sports Alive go down the drain with, it is believed, over $1m of punters' funds. This isn't the first firm in the ACT to go down, but it is definitely the biggest. A proper regulatory body would have seen the writing on the wall and found the evidence they needed to suspend the betting licence. Rumours of a class action have been mooted. The ACT GRC really should be held accountable for this debacle - their stamp of approval was on the licence and they ballsed it up big time....

Punter Protection (or lack thereof) in the ACT


As a member of the Australian fixed odds betting fraternity I have always been one to take pride in the way responsible wagering has added colour to our sports and racing industries. I believe the highly regulated nature of the industry has made it is socially acceptable to have a flutter on the Melbourne Cup or back your favourite player to score the first try in the NRL Grand Final. There is nothing wrong with either however the events of the past week have left me absolutely flabbergasted with how punters are treated by the ACT Government.

If you are unaware, a corporate bookmaker by the name of Sports Alive went into voluntary liquidation last Thursday. Sports Alive, licensed in the ACT, was well down the pecking order when it came to Australian bookmakers but just like TAB SportsBet, SportingBet, CentreBet or even SportsBet.com.au it was a 24-hour online bookie who accepted bets on sports and racing. However, they were a big enough organisation to leave thousands of customers out of pocket to the tune of $1m+.

I am aware that companies of all types fail on a consistent basis so I will not shine the torch on the collapse of Sports Alive. Sure, its experienced bookmakers were shrewd enough to win $4m and $5m from customers in the past two financial years. Sure, it received a windfall of $5m from TOTE Tas for a 25% share in the business. Sure, it had a lucrative deal with BetFair.

However, without knowing most of the facts I will refrain from saying anything more than the fact Sports Alive was reportedly let down by shady practices from senior management and owners. It was a good company making decent returns in a competitive and growing industry but I will allow the staff and investors they left out of pocket to tug the coat tails of the administrators. I will focus on the clear-cut issues of punter protection.

Sports Alive was licensed with the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission (GRC). Neither Sports Alive nor the GRC has contacted punters as to the whereabouts of their funds. Sports Alive have shut down their website and phonelines while the GRC are not replying to emails or phone calls. While I can understand that the Sports Alive owners are on their proverbial way to Brazil with suitcases of cash, I am disappointed with the actions of a supposedly reputable Government agency.


Read the rest...

I have harped and harped about the need for proper punter protection to build an industry, and have lampooned any regulatory body without it. I am deeply ashamed that the modern business attitude of 'ah, fuck it' has spread to Australian bookmaking regulators. Other states should come down on them like a ton of bricks - this will hurt all of them.


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