World Vision head Tim Costello and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon said yesterday they were shocked to see Betfair's strong presence on advertising billboards at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Mr Costello, who was at the MCG yesterday, said he was "very worried" about the potential for children who viewed the Betfair advertising to go home and gamble online without their parents' knowledge.
"You've got families and kids here," Mr Costello said. "Of course gambling is part of life, but I think when it's a family cultural event like the Boxing Day Test, the advertising is inappropriate."
He said he was particularly concerned at the way Benaud had quoted Betfair's odds during his commentary, broadcast live around the nation on the Nine Network yesterday morning.
"The truth is we know that gambling addiction breaks up families, causes crime and comes at a huge social cost," Mr Costello said. "When it's a family event like the cricket, when it's being broadcast live and kids are listening to it, it is overstepping the mark. It's inappropriate certainly for kids at a family event."
Senator Xenophon, who was elected as a South Australian senator at the last federal poll largely on an anti-gambling platform, described the online gambling world as the "wild west" and called on the Rudd Government to impose regulations on the broadcasters.
"Online gambling such as Betfair has the potential to deliver the next wave of problem gamblers," he said.
"There's very little regulation in relation to advertising. Gambling advertising ought to carry with it warnings, and we ought to be looking at restrictions similar to those that apply to cigarettes and alcohol."
Senator Xenophon agreed with Mr Costello that the ability for online betting agencies to advertise at the cricket threatened the Boxing Day match's family-friendly status. "It's a shame for the great game of cricket that it's been reduced to just another event to have a punt on," Senator Xenophon said. "It diminishes the great game of cricket."Nine's publicity officer did not return calls yesterday.
Andrew Symonds seems to appear in more TV commercials than any other current player. A recent addition to his repertoire features him elbowing a cross dresser to the ground. All this to promote a soft drink!
Given Symonds's on and off field reputation this looks like another example of art imitating life.