Tommy W ‘The Social Nuisance’

Is there a blogger, writer, commentator or journalist in Australia that hasn’t written a Tom Waterhouse piece? Three months after telling us Tom Waterhouse “Has to be stopped“, The Insider returns to the issue that the whole country is talking about.

Congratulations Tommy W.

In the space of three months, the promotion and advertising of sports betting in Australia has gone from a rarely mentioned distraction to what has now become a significant election issue.

The 10’s on near-certainty to be Prime Minister in five months has apparently bowed to popular opinion and media hysteria and indicated that he will act on advertising in sports broadcasts.

“We are natural deregulators, not regulators. But when you’ve got a significant social nuisance, it’s important for government to at least be prepared to step in,” Tony Abbott said.

Hang on a minute; don’t pokies inflict the most social pain and destruction? What does he think of them? Oh that’s right, they are part of the ‘social fabric‘.

And while Abbott’s at it with his plight against ‘social nuisances’, how about doing something to stop Facebook and Apple freely pushing ads for online casinos and such to kids through their phones and PC’s? Where is FitzSimons and co now? Anyway, I digress.

Whether Abbott is on the mark or misguided isn’t the point. The point is – how the hell did it ever come to this?

If you run a business whose primary concern is gambling, then surely the obligation is with you – no matter what the law – to RESPONSIBLY advertise and promote the business?

Racing integrity issues aside, what Tom Waterhouse has done is far from responsible. Put simply, its oversaturation and an unbearably pervasive brand of promotion.

I can’t quite work out whether it was an inflated ego or a genuine marketing tactic that saw him seek a “commentary” role with Channel Nine’s NRL coverage. Whatever the reason, it was pushing the envelope and it’s proved the tipping point for public opinion.

Some say Channel Nine are to blame for accepting the coin and allowing Waterhouse to live his dream on the commentary team. Rubbish. When you are in the business of gambling, the responsibility must be with the operator.

Even now with his ‘branded’ segment on the sideline, Waterhouse is still blurring the line between bookie and commentator.

Sure, tell us the odds. Tell us where the money’s gone. But why rattle off fifteen insignificant stats in an attempt to persuade viewers that you know the game?

You can rehearse the numbers for an hour before going to air and have as many people screaming down your ear as you like, but it still comes off as if you are trying to prove something that you are not – an NRL expert.

So, who’s trying to defend the indefensible?

Not surprisingly, some of those strongly defending Waterhouse have come from within the racing industry. These are the people with the least to lose. Racing will continue to be the true “mugs game” and any impact from any proposed advertising restrictions during sporting events will be minimal.

The Waterhouse-clan puff pieces in the Daily Telegraph from the likes of Ray Thomas have been laughable and counterproductive to their cause. Standby for Kate Waterhouse sensationally revealing that her mum is a hard worker and her brother is misunderstood in next Sunday’s edition.

And then there is this dinosaur. “Why the animosity against young Tom?,” asks Max Presnell. Utterly embarrassing stuff.

So where are we now?

Tom Waterhouse appears be burning a massive chunk of the family fortune in a continued marketing onslaught. Only time will tell as to whether there will be a significant return on the enormous investment. I highly doubt it.

But of more concern to those within the industry, sports betting advertising has now somehow become a 2013 election issue. Which politician wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of populist opinion?

Just a few years after the lifting of cross-state advertising restrictions, one operator has gone rogue and seems intent on dragging an entire industry down with him.

This article was originally published at It has been reproduced with permission.

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