Australian Open and Betfair Working Together

Published Thursday, January 14, 2010 -

The two week Australian Open produced by the not for profit federation Tennis Australia will receive a percentage of wagers placed through online betting firm Betfair. it starts January 18 in Melbourne.

Officials of the Grand Slam tournament and Betfair report the sum of money the Open makes from the sponsorship deal is very small. This is the closest commercial link between betting and a sport that has been under the watchful eye of the Tennis Integrity Unit, for suspicious wagering activity.

Simon Chadwick, a professor of sport business strategy and marketing at Coventry University Business School in England commented on the arrangement, ''You're opening yourself up to allegations from the general public that you're condoning online gambling or are complicit in online gambling scandals,'' adding, ''You have to make sure that the public knows everything is monitored very carefully.'' Andrew Twaits, CEO for Hobart-based Betfair Australia, said, ''The key to managing integrity is giving the relevant authorities complete access,'' and, ''Everything is out in the open.''

At a news conference in Adelaide Australia recently, eight-time Grand Slam singles champion John McEnroe stated, ''If you were one of these guys who wants to try to fix a sporting event, it would probably be easier for you to get one person rather than say 10 people if you were playing a cricket match or soccer game or something. So that's a huge concern.''

Promotion by Betfair began last year at stadiums and now fans will be able to sign up for Betfair accounts at the event but won't be able to bet on the Open. The sponsorship deal does not give Betfair courtside signs.

Steve Wood, CEO for the tournament said, revenue for the Australian Open is forecast to grow to $152 million this year, up from $84 million in 2005. He added, ''We're not immune to the world economy,'' Wood said in an interview. ''We've had our challenges, but we're navigating through them.'' This move is one that is one that is sure to draw considerable criticism.



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