Bookies hit back against calls to abolish election betting

ELECTION gambling is one of the cleanest forms of betting because it is impossible to manipulate the results, the group representing Australia's biggest online bookmakers says.

The Australian Wagering Council was responding to calls from independents, MP Andrew Wilkie and Senator Nick Xenophon, for election betting to be abolished as it exposed the system to corruption.

News surfaced on Tuesday that Sportsbet took a string of bets on the election date just hours before Prime Minister Julia Gillard's shock revelation at the National Press Club.

It led to Mr Wilkie and Senator Xenophon renewing their calls for a ban on election gambling, with the latter also writing to Special Minister of State Gary Gray calling for the matter to be investigated.

But the AWC, which represents seven bookmakers including Sportsbet, said the MPs' fears were misplaced as Australia had one of the "most respected electoral systems in the world".

"It is impossible to manipulate the results with the integrity of elections subject to intense public scrutiny," the AWC said in a statement.

The AWC said a prohibition on election betting would not stop people from betting on elections and would be a boon for SP bookies and overseas online betting operations.

Anti-gambling campaigners should be more concerned with the rapid growth in SP bookmaking, the AWC said.

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