The Voice Referendum Off Limits for Betting Agencies

The Voice Referendum Off Limits for Betting Agencies
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Australia’s largest gambling organisations typically offer you the chance to bet on almost everything. But when it comes to offering odds on the outcome of the voice referendum, most aren’t allowing Australians to make a wager.

Let’s examine why they’ve decided not to offer punters the chance to vote on a yes or no outcome in what’s looking set to be one of Australia’s most controversial referendums.

Why They Won’t Touch It

While companies have in the past offered odds on both state and federal elections, along with some briefly opening their books on the same-sex marriage plebiscite, some lobby groups aren’t surprised with the decision to not offer wagers on the voice referendum.

Avoiding Criticism

The Alliance for Gambling Reform believe the industry is looking to avoid criticism from the government in the wake of tightening regulations.

Many casino and sports book operators are currently lobbying to prevent imposing bans regarding trailing commissions and prohibiting gambling advertisements. Critics say betting companies won’t want to attract any further criticism, given calls for stricter regulatory measures on the gambling industry.

The Alliance has been lobbying Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently and believes online bookies are worried about what the government’s response to the online gambling report recommendations to ban gambling advertising and inducements could mean.

Chief Executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said the gambling industry had proven it puts “profits from losers ahead of any moral considerations”.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie agreed that the motivations of gambling sites were self-serving, though he welcomed the fact most weren’t accepting bets about the vote. He said, “Such events are much too important to be treated like a footy game.”

Too Divisive an Issue

Another explanation for the reluctance is the controversy surrounding the voice proposal.

Many consider the vote too divisive, and betting sites don’t want to associate themselves with the referendum.

During the same-sex marriage plebiscite, SportsBet was accused of insensitivity when it offered odds on the outcome. They subsequently withdrew its market due to the negativity from the media and the Australian community.

Are Any Sites Offering Bets?

To date, no major sportsbook has opened bets on the upcoming referendum that could introduce an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, giving Indigenous Australians more say on government policies.

Ladbrokes, Neds, Betfair, Betr, and Sportsbet have all stated they have no plans to open bets on the referendum, though they’ve steered clear of giving an exact reason why.

BlueBet, a small online gambling company, is offering odds on the Indigenous voice referendum. They opened their books in June, back when the Yes campaign was the favourite at $1.70. Within a month of opening bets, 95% of wagers were placed for the No-vote winning.

BlueBet’s Head of Content, Richard Hummerston, said that BlueBet isn’t advocating for either vote but giving local punters the chance to place wagers on the outcome.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Voice to Parliament

A Voice to Parliament aims to give First Nations people a say in government policy. It means creating a permanent body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This body would advise the government on policies, laws and matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ lives on social, spiritual and economic issues.

The Voice would provide permanent recognition and representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s constitution.

The goal of the Voice is to provide independent advice and guidance. The body would not have the power to overrule federal parliament (known as veto power). The Voice would also not be able to deliver services, manage government funding or mediate between organisations.

How the Voice to Parliament Came About

In 2017, there was a historic meeting in Uluru of First Nations people from around Australia.

With over 250 delegates, the group reached a consensus, known as the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that identified three key objectives. These included establishing a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Another objective was establishing a treaty agreement between First Nations peoples and Australia’s State and Federal Governments. To establish national acknowledgement of, and legal protection for, the rights and interests of Indigenous Australians.

The final objective focused on Truth-telling. Giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s history. One that acknowledges both colonial conflict and dispossession, along with the strength and resilience of Indigenous Australians.

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Olivia Hughes
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