Australian bettors who want to place wagers on non-sports events will no longer be able to bet on the Australian of the Year Awards. Police in Australia have launched a probe into whether 2020 Australian of the Year winner was leaked weeks before the award ceremony took place, so betting on the event is now suspended indefinitely.
Ben Morton, the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, asked the Northern Territory Licensing Commission to ban all betting on the event. Many Australian sports betting operators are registered in the Northern Territory because of its tax incentives, so this decision will also be a blow for Australian bookmakers that had the event in their offering.
Odds Slashed from $6 to $1.36
Authorities noticed that something wasn’t right with the betting activity on the Australian of the Year Awards back in January this year. Grace Tame, the eventual winner of the award, was an outsider to win and was priced at $6.
However, in a matter of weeks, and just days before the award ceremony, Grace Tame’s odds dropped from $6 to $1.36. That led many betting operators and punters to suspect that the winner may have been leaked. Australian authorities have been alerted by the suspicious betting activity too.
A Monumental Case
Grace Tame was a survivor of sexual abuse, and her case was of great importance because it was the first one in which a victim has been allowed to name her abuser, in Ms Tame’s case, a former teacher at St Michael’s Collegiate school for girls in Hobart. The fact that Ms Tame could name her abuser, meant the gag laws that protected the identities of abusers could now be overturned.
From an Outsider to Odds-on Favourite
In terms of the betting activity on the Australian of the Year award, the 26-year-old was behind chief medical officer Brendan Murphy and Shane Fitzsimmons, the former NSW fire commissioner.
Both Murphy and Fitzsimmons were considered as stronger favourites for winning the award, but they were gazumped by Grace Tame only days before the winner was announced.
Ms Tame’s odds dropped so drastically that the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission received several tips about illegal betting on the event which was later referred to the Australian Federal Police.
180 People Knew Who the Winner Was Before the Awards Ceremony
According to authorities, Ms Tame didn’t know about the changes in odds, and she was also not informed that she would be the winner. She found out that she had won the night the ceremony took place and when betting was already suspended.
However, that doesn’t mean that the leak couldn’t have come from somewhere else. It is estimated that there were as many as 180 people who knew that Ms Tame would win the event as early as December 2020. These were people from the National Australia Day Council and the people doing the TV broadcasts.
Each of these individuals signed a non-disclosure agreement saying that they would not talk with anyone about the winner of the awards. The NDs they signed also included a non-betting clause that was inserted to prevent what later happened.
31 Australian Bookmakers Removed the Awards
According to Newscorp, Mr Morton wrote to Selina Uibo, the Northern Territory Attorney-General, to ask her to suspend all betting activity on the Australian of the Year awards. The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister wrote that the Australian Federal Police had recently informed him about people abusing their position or insider information to bet on nominees for the Awards.
Mr Morton added that because the continued betting on the Awards posed the risk to their integrity and reputation, it was best to halt all wagering activity on the event.
31 of the 46 registered betting providers in Australia have now removed the Australian of the Year Awards from the list of events punters can bet on. These are the bookmakers registered in the Northern Territory.