Sell, sell, sell! That’s the resounding advice for gambling kingpin Tom Waterhouse, with rumoured offers ranging between $200 and $500 million for his online gambling empire. While a sale would see a substantial financial windfall for Waterhouse, any reduced role in the company’s day to day promotional activities would be an obvious win for all Australians.
It’s not like Waterhouse has done anything outrageous to earn his ‘most punchable face in the media‘ tag, other than be a little too good at his job. He hasn’t been embroiled in any ugly sex scandals, he hasn’t been to rehab and he’s avoided making any homophobic/racist/I’m a rich twat gaffes. It’s not even the fact that he’s trying to take our money, despite coming from proper established money – that’s capitalism, baby! It’s entirely down to his persistent badgering on our TV screens ALL THE FUCKING TIME. His suffocation point media exposure has boosted the worth of his company but will it have dire consequences for the rest of the gambling industry? (We’re not saying that’s a bad thing)
Waterhouse’s most recent TV screen heist can be pinned to his $50 million 5-year deal with the NRL, becoming their official gambling partner. Throw in an additional $15 million with Channel 9 for appearances on the AFL and NRL footy shows, as well as regular commentary box stints, it’s no wonder viewers are suffering from Waterhouse fatigue.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel for fans suffering a bout of excess exposure to Mr Waterhouse in their sports coverage. Waterhouse’s rapid subtlety-free expansion has come at a cost with a senate enquiry launched to investigate the effects of gambling promotion during prime-time coverage. Senator Nick Xenophon is pushing for a ban on gambling advertising during G-rated programs, stating “Tom Waterhouse has pushed the envelope to the extent that it has now got
to the point that it’s out of control and there needs to be a
Anyone who has suffered through Channel 9’s awkward attempts to spruik channel content during the cricket will agree that product placement and cross-promotion are the bane of any sports fan’s existence. While it’s easy to offer a curt “No Slats, we ARE NOT going to stick around for Sheldon and the zany gang from The Big Bang Theory“, the current saturation of prime-time gambling themed content has the very-real probability of creating a generation of problem-gamblers.
Like Australia’s entrenched drinking culture, gambling only gets headlines for all the wrong reasons. We’ve advertised gambling on our site, as with alcohol brands, and acknowledge a major difference between gambling as a means of entertainment and problem gambling. We certainly don’t suggest we nanny state the hell out of the industry but the increased focus and success of sports gambling was always going to lead to a discussion as to whether the appropriate message was being delivered to the appropriate audience.
As a business model, it’s hard to fault Tom Waterhouse’s shock-and-awe, short-term orientated market assault. Ironically, the success of which has prompted pundits to think of the children. The impending Waterhouse inspired gambling reforms may be affecting the industry already with the Wall Street Journal quashing rumours that international betting giant Ladbrokes were readying to buy a 50% stake in Waterhouse’s business.
A bit of personally directed shade thrown from the sections of the media and a few bogan sports fans is easy to cop when your company is worth so many fat stacks but I’d imagine the final move in Waterhouse’s elaborate – and to this point – faultlessly executed play, hinges on a quick cash-in while he has a substantial customer portfolio. If the fan backlash to his current insistence on getting all up in our grill is anything to go by, that portfolio may not hold for long.