by REBECCA SPARROW
Tom Waterhouse keeps coming into my house. I didn’t invite him. I’m sure he’s a perfectly lovely guy but I don’t want him there.
And yet, there he is. Trying to entice me to gamble.
Of course, Tom (and I feel like I can call him Tom since quite often I’m in my jammies when he turns up) … never says ‘gamble’. Filthy word ‘gamble’. No, Tom talks about ‘odds and stats’. Tom talks about me ‘having a punt!’ And he says it in a fun way with that cheeky smile! Have a punt! But you and I both know what ‘have a punt’ means. It’s code for ‘taking your money and flushing it down the toilet.’
I’m sure you’re nice, Tom. You look nice. This is not personal.
But you’re a bookie, Tom. And I don’t want you – the new clean cut, fresh face of gambling – or anyone enticing my family to gamble, in my loungeroom. In fact, you being in my loungeroom several times a week is making me angry and upset.
Gambling is the heart disease of our country. According to the Australian government website ProblemGambling.gov.au, Aussies spent more than $19 billion A YEAR on gambling. The social cost to the community of problem gambling is close to $5 billion a year. Gambling ruins lives. And Australia already has the highest rate of gambling in the world.
Tom, I hate the fact you and others in your profession are trying to normalise it into every single part of sport. I’m old fashioned. I kinda think I should be able to watch sport (or pretend to watch sport while I Google “How old was Scott Baio when he starred in Charles in Charge”) without people trying to entice me to gamble.
I won’t pretend I’m a big rugby league fan. I don’t know my Brett Stewart from my Ricky Stuart.
But that matters little. Like thousands of other Australians – including kids – I live in a household which hums along to the NRL season.
My kids (who are often forced like tiny hostages to support the Paramatta Eels thanks to their father) are now being routinely exposed to gambling propaganda because Tom Waterhouse and ‘taking a punt’ is suddenly part of the deal. Well it has been ever since Mr Waterhouse allegedly did a 5-year $50 m deal with the NRL to be their official gambling partner.