Australia: Three major gambling companies found taking bets on cricket matches featuring minors

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Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds, is outraged by the news that three of Australia’s largest gambling companies are taking bets on international cricket matches including players who are underage.

Sportsbet, TAB, and bet365 have been taking bets on matches in the inaugural Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup taking place in South Africa this month, including on a match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Benoni. Nearly half of the Australian players playing the match were said to be under the age of 18, including Lucy Hamilton (16) and Maggie Clark (15). Moreover, eight out of 11 players in the Sri Lankan team were underage, too.

Hollonds argued that betting on sports events involving minors amounts to exploitation of children and urged lawmakers to pass laws prohibiting it.

“Clearly, kids are being exploited for profit. Young people are basically being used for profit by these online gambling businesses. They are businesses making a profit on our kids,” Hollonds said in a statement, as quoted by ABC News.

One of the players’ parent said, “They’re not racehorses … she’s not a greyhound. It’s kids’ sport. I’d hate it if the motivation behind holding tournaments was because of the money from gambling rather than for the sport.”

Meanwhile, Sportsbet issued a statement saying, “we work hard to ensure we comply with all relevant regulatory and legal requirements. Sportsbet does not provide betting markets for under 18 years of age competitions or events.”

Sportsbet and TAB have been providing pre-match odds on the result of the Australia-Sri Lanka match as well as on a number of other matches in the competition, including Bangladesh v. USA, India v. Scotland, and South Africa v. United Arab Emirates.

Catherine Ordway, a specialist in sports integrity at the University of Canberra, said that in-play betting poses particularly serious risks in games featuring minors. “The combination of in-play betting and young people raises red flags immediately,” she added.