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Sports betting ban would cripple an industry, says online entrepreneur

Friday, 8 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Calls for a nationwide ban on sports betting would cripple an entire industry, says the chief executive of horseracing site Punters Paradise, but he is adamant the move will never go ahead.


Punters Paradise, which was founded in 2007 and is based on the Sunshine Coast, allows punters to not only buy and sell tips but access form guides, live results odds and photos from the track.


“Clearly, [a nationwide sports betting ban] would affect us but our business is based on advertising,” chief executive Luc Pettett told StartupSmart.


“We’re not a betting website – we don’t take bets but we do attract those sorts of people who are interested in placing bets.”


Pettett’s comments come after anti-gambling campaigner and independent senator Nick Xenophon said sports betting across the country should be banned.


Senator Xenophon made the call after an investigation by the Australian Crime Commission found widespread doping, links to organised crime and match-fixing in Australia’s sporting industry.


He wants a temporary ban on sports betting until moves are made to clean up sporting codes.


Meanwhile, Jeff Kennett, a former AFL club president and Victorian premier, wants an immediate ban on the promotion of sports betting.


But the Victorian government and the AFL have already rejected calls for a ban, with Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu insisting it’s impractical given the huge proportion of bets placed online.


“It’s not going to happen. The world’s moved on,” Baillieu told ABC Radio.


“We have internet betting all over the world and I think education of those who do bet, and making sure your sport is clean and has all the integrity systems, is the way to go.”


Pettett, who is currently in London as his business prepares to launch a UK website, says the effects of a ban would be wide-reaching.


“Certainly it would affect us but it would affect a lot of people… Sports betting won’t be banned – not at all. The industry is entirely supported by sports betting,” he says.


In particular, a ban would have serious implications for Melbourne-based start-up Favourit, which, after raising $2.5 million, has ambitious plans for its gamified social network.


Having identified an emerging niche in “social sports betting”, Favourit allows bookmakers to integrate their betting product into the platform and sell via a unique social experience.


According to the company, bookmakers “across the globe” – including Australia, the United Kingdom and greater Europe – have shown an interest in the platform.


Favourit could not be reached for comment.