Waterhouse says having his face on air helps TV

Controversial bookmaker Tom Waterhouse has come out in defence of his high-profile marketing and promotion of sports betting during the broadcasts of Australia's most popular sports.

Controversial bookmaker Tom Waterhouse has come out in defence of his high-profile marketing and promotion of sports betting during the broadcasts of Australia's most popular sports.

In a statement to the joint select committee on gambling reform, Mr Waterhouse said his organisation had "no intention of targeting children through our advertising" and its controversial arrangements with broadcasters such as Nine were helping keep the broadcasting industry viable and relevant.

The committee launched an inquiry into the advertising and promotion of gambling services in sport in February in response to growing concern over the rising television profile of betting operators such as Mr Waterhouse.

His response to the committee did not include details of the deal with Nine, or the rumoured $50 million deal with rugby league.

Mr Waterhouse said: "An arrangement between our company and the NRL has not been concluded at this stage", while his deal with Nine was "commercial-in-confidence".

He was more open about his on-air role at the broadcaster.

"In the first two rounds, we presented at some times alongside Nine commentators but not as a commentator rather as a broadcast sponsor," the submission from Mr Waterhouse said.

He said that, from round three, his role moved to "discrete segments" with clearly defined branding and company graphics. "There is no interaction between the commentators and me," he said.

According to Mr Waterhouse, his controversial dealings with Nine are more effective at getting viewers' attention and he said it was good for the broadcasters, too.

"This type of arrangement by our company, and others, in this and other industries is vital in keeping TV a viable and relevant medium to promote business," he said.

"For TV to be able to afford broadcast rights, the funding of which is ploughed back into the sport, it needs to stay relevant to advertisers. In the modern age, traditional advertising (commercial ad breaks) no longer always works effectively."

In 2011, the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the federal government's intention to work with the sport and betting industries to "reduce and control" the promotion of live odds during sports broadcasts.

The voluntary codes being developed are designed to ensure there are no live odds during a game, or given by commentators at any time during the broadcast of a match. They will be allowed during breaks in play and must be clearly identified as a gambling promotion.

"We believe we promote responsible gambling and we have no intention of targeting children through our advertising," Mr Waterhouse said. "At all times we comply with all relevant codes."

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