With an advertisement for Cricket Austalia sponsor Bet365 in the background, Pakistan's Musa Khan puts his back into it during the second Test at Adelaide.
With an advertisement for Cricket Austalia sponsor Bet365 in the background, Pakistan's Musa Khan puts his back into it during the second Test at Adelaide.

Long shot: CA rejects betting company's offer to sponsor BBL

CRICKET Australia has turned down an offer from a betting company to sponsor the Big Bash League.

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts has revealed the rejected approach as his organisation comes under criticism for taking sponsorship from gambling companies.

He says the BBL sponsorship offer from an un-named gambling company didn't fit with the domestic Twenty20 competition.

"That is something we won't do because it's fun, family entertainment," Roberts told SEN radio on Saturday.

CA is heavily sponsored by Bet365, drawing the ire of Tim Costello, the chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, who has called on cricket to sever ties with the betting agency.

Tim Costello has been an anti-gambling advocate for years. Picture: Gary Ramage
Tim Costello has been an anti-gambling advocate for years. Picture: Gary Ramage

"There's two very separate points here," Roberts said.

"The integrity of the game, it's all about keeping the game clean.

"And, on the other hand, very separately, we have a commercial arrangement in the sports betting space in Australia.

"I would note that we're very conservative in that space ... we have an existing commercial arrangement in some other forms of the game and we need to honour that at this point in time.

"But in terms of our future commercial strategy ... we're going to be reflecting on the sponsorship categories and the markets where we want to do more, where we want to maintain our position, and in some cases where we want to do less."

Asked when CA would review its sponsorship with Bet365, Roberts said "when the time is right".

"I don't want to jump the gun, the worst thing we could do is react prematurely," he said.

Roberts said if CA didn't have betting sponsorship, television coverage wouldn't look any different because of the number of non-sponsor gambling companies that advertised during play.

The former chief executive of basketball team the Perth Wildcats, Nick Marvin challenged cashed-up Cricket Australia this week to ban gambling and aocohol advertising - a bold initiative his minnow organisation took back in 2011.

Nick Marvin’s Wildcats severed sponsorship ties with betting and alcohol companies in 2011.
Nick Marvin’s Wildcats severed sponsorship ties with betting and alcohol companies in 2011.

Marvin said if a financially vulnerable club in a second-tier sport like basketball could take the plunge, then so should a powerhouse like cricket, which had a huge influence over kids and young people.

"We made a decision not on money, but on values," Marvin told The Daily Telegraph.

"I'd rather have been broke than take the dollar from an agency that does no good, and there is no one in sport that should justifiably take any money from sports gambling.

"Call it a belief in a higher being, or Karma, but we managed to get by and now we would arguably be three or four times better financed by good sponsors than we were back then.

"It also had a contribution to our success on court.

"We went 10 years without winning championships to winning one every second year. And the question I asked of us was, 'what would we be remembered for?'

"You take a risk walking away from those big (agencies), but at least you can sleep well at night and your parents and customers - and non-customers - will reward you."

Cricket has two years to run on its contract with Bet365.

Costello's renewed plea to the Cricket Australia board to end its association with Bet365 came a year after he was invited by CA chief Kevin Roberts to address State executives - at which time he delivered some similar home truths.

Marvin said if he had his time again he would have walked away from the Wildcats' partnership with West Australian betting agency Player mid-deal instead of waiting for it to expire.

However, he insists he can't judge CA on this front, given he didn't have the courage to take such a drastic step at the time himself.

"You get some superpowers whether you're in sport as an administrator or a player, and with great power comes a great responsibility," said Marvin.

"The question is, how are you going to use that power regardless of (the financial cost)?

"The world has changed. Not just from activists on social platforms, but from mums and dads who feed sporting businesses and want goodness."

Cricket Australia has acknowledged it is a complex issue and one it is proactively addressing.

"The promotion of gambling through sport is a challenging topic, one that we are not immune to. We aim to be socially responsible in all that we do while recognising people's right to make their own choices," CA communications executive Karina Keisler said.

"We are working on solutions that provide cricket fans greater choice of advertising content including the ability to opt out."

Meanwhile, the cricket players' association is in the process of trying to convince the Cricket Australia board to engage in a review of the process behind Emily Smith's ban.

The Hobart Hurricanes' Emily Smith, right. Picture: Michael Dodge/AAP
The Hobart Hurricanes' Emily Smith, right. Picture: Michael Dodge/AAP

Costello accused Cricket Australia of shameful hypocrisy this week over the fact it had taken a hard-line stance on Instagram prankster Emily Smith for an innocent anti-corruption breach while at the same time accepting money from Bet365.

Costello is adamant cricket has a greater responsibility than other sports to banish its partnership with Bet365 - whose advertising features prominently at all Test venues - given its standing as the national sport and also its shady history of match fixing.